When January rolls around, I like to take stock and go through the pantry to see what needs to be used. This year, merry little red lentils were calling, “Use me! Use me!” Well, I did and made Thai Red Lentil Soup with Coconut & Curry.
Years ago, I had a Red Lentil Soup like this in a cafe/bistro and I’ve never forgotten these flavors: curry, coconut & lime, or the garnish of what they called Cilantro Lime Oil that drove all those flavors home. This is my recreation.
You can easily customize Red Lentil Soup to your taste. Use a curry paste and add as little or as much as you’d like. Start with a tablespoon, simmer a bit and add more if you want. The finish of coconut milk will mellow all the flavors, so keep that in mind.
In the past, I’ve always blended this soup, but the more I thought about it, the more I decided I like the contrast of the chunky sweet potato and the creamy lentils. Plus, if there are any leftovers, that gives me an opportunity to refashion the soup just a bit by giving it a whirl in the food processor or blender.
Serve this soup with a little bit of bread if you’d like. This is a Thai soup and there’s really no reason for my garnish of Crispy Oven Roasted Chickpeas which lean toward the Indian side of curry except I had them sitting on the counter when the inspiration hit. They’re like little crunchy croutons.
Do serve this with lime. It not only brightens the whole soup up, but the citrus helps our body make better use of the iron in the lentils. If you’d like to take it one step further, garnish with Cilantro Lime Oil. It takes about five minutes to make and takes this soup over the top.
Leftover, the soup will get thicker, so add a little liquid, but before you do that, think about having the leftovers as a little dip for some crackers or bread. Any cracker will do for the soup or a dip, and Elaine’s Nut & Seed Crackers go very well!
Red Lentil Soup with Coconut & Curry
Note: soup may be pureed or not, but if you do plan on doing so, the vegetables don’t need to be peeled and may all be roughly chunked, the garlic doesn’t need to be minced and the ginger may be just sliced.
- 1 can of coconut, use a few tablespoons of the creamy oil from the top for a cooking oil, reserve the rest to finish the soup.
- 1 medium onion, large dice
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
- 1″ piece ginger, grated or very finely diced
- 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste or more to taste
- 4 cups (may need a bit more) stock (vegetable or chicken) or water
- 1 medium to large sweet potato, peeled and cut in 3/4″ dice
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4″ chunks
- 1 1/2 cups dried red lentils
- the remainder of the can of coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- salt to taste or additional fish sauce
- lime and/or Cilantro Lime Oil, cilantro or parsley for garnish
In a Dutch oven, heat several tablespoons of the congealed coconut milk from the top of the can. Add onions, and cook until onions have softened, stirring now and then about eight minutes. Add curry paste and cook, stirring until fragrant, about one minute. Add garlic and ginger and stir in.
Add 4 cups water or broth, sweet potatoes, carrots, and lentils. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer, partially covered, until lentils and vegetables are tender about 20 to 25 minutes. The soup will be very thick towards the end of cooking time – make sure to check it and stir if necessary to prevent scorching.
Stir in coconut milk, fish sauce, and lime. Add additional stock or water to bring the soup to your preferred thickness. If desired, puree soup in batches until velvety and smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve warm or cold with lime, or other suggested garnishes. Soup will thicken upon standing, and thicken more if refrigerated, so add a little water if reheating.