Martha Stewart Living (March 2012)
We've had a crush on red lentils for a few months.
It all started innocently enough. On kind of whim, we bought a variety of lentils from the bulk section of the organic market up the street from our house. (Yes, purchasing bulk lentils at an organic market qualifies as a "whim" Chez Bitten.)
While we enjoyed all the lentil we sampled, it was the red lentils that had us hooked. We can't tell you how many times this winter we ate cooked red lentils with some fresh basil (well, fresh-frozen basil) stirred in. It's a plain but very satisfying lunch -- and a very healthy one.
But that's where our lentil project plateaued. We had grand plans to make other lentil dishes, but we got stuck in Red-Lentils-with-Basil Land, and we never left.
So we were very happy to see this Curried Red-Lentil Soup with Dried Cherries and Cilantro from Martha Stewart Living.
This was new flavor territory for us, particularly the coconut milk, which we almost never cook with. And we weren't sure about the combination of curry, cherries, coconut and cilantro, but we were eager to give it a go. The flavors are fantastic together! The coconut milk adds a rich creaminess and a hint of sweet, and the dried cherries were a beautiful contrast to the heat of the curry.
We ended up substituting parsley for cilantro, mostly because we needed a bunch of parsley for another dish (and we're not good about using up cilantro). We loved the zing of freshness it added.
Soup weather may be on the wane in our nation's capital. But this dish is perfect as a satisfying spring soup.
TIPS FROM ZACH AND CLAY OF THE BITTEN WORD:
- We found that the 2 teaspoons of safflower oil was not enough for sauteing the vegetables. We added slightly more oil, and then later a bit of water, to get our vegetables softened.
- We substituted parsley for cilantro and loved the soup.
Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Yield: 4 1/2 cups
2 teaspoons safflower oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped peeled ginger (from a 2-inch piece)
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped (2 tablespoons)
1 large shallot, finely chopped (4 tablespoons)
2 carrots, finely diced (about 1 cup)
2 teaspoons curry powder
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup red lentils
1/3 cup chopped dried cherries
3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro stems, plus 3 tablespoons cilantro leaves for garnish
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add ginger, garlic, shallot, and carrots and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add curry powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, 1/2 cup coconut milk, 4 cups water, and the lentils, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until lentils and carrots are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Pour 2 cups soup through a fine sieve into a bowl, reserving solids. Puree strained liquid with remaining soup in a blender until smooth. Reheat after blending. Stir in reserved solids.
Reserving some for garnish, stir cherries and cilantro stems into soup, and ladle into bowls. Swirl in remaining 1/4 cup coconut milk, and garnish with cherries and cilantro leaves.