curried carrot + red lentil soup
This soup was born out of necessity. I had an overflow of vegetables from my CSA. I was experiencing prolonged dental problems that made excessive chewing both painful and terrifying. This made my usual summer diet of salads salads and more salads a little.... impossible. Salads require a lot of chewing. I was in no mood for such things.
I made this soup in the height of the heat wave. It was... counter-intuitive, to say the least. I suppose I could have made a chilled soup instead... but the veggies I had on hand just didn't scream "gazpacho" for some reason. I will say that there's something about spicy food in hot weather that I really dig. But... I mean I also dig spicy food in cold weather, medium weather, or airports and malls with no weather whatsoever. So... perhaps I just like spicy food.
I tend to not particularly care for cooked carrots in general. I find them too sweet... I'm quite persnickety about my sweet and savory. I looooove certain sweet and savory combinations, but others just taste weird and wrong to me. Anywho. I've done a nice gingery carrot soup in the past that worked for my picky palate, but not for many years. I decided to try a more intense curry flavor for this round. I looked to my favorite Indian food muse, Anupy Singla, for inspiration. I basically copied the spices from her curried cauliflower and potato recipe from The Indian Slow Cooker (one of my all time favorite Indian recipes!! You must try it!). I added red lentils for body and protein (and funsies). To be honest, when I first made this soup I used three chilies and it came out WAY too spicy. Even for me. And my top complaint about most foods is that they aren't spicy enough. So in the future I'll dial the chilies back to two. Use one for a lighter hit of heat- or none if you're afraid. If you end up with a soup that is just too hot for your taste, stir in a can of coconut milk at the end. It will mellow the flavors and add a nice creaminess. While still keeping everything vegan. If that's something that you're into. If not, feel free to top with lots of greek yogurt (or sour cream) as I did. You could even use a meaty stock if you don't feel the need to keep things veg friendly. Any stock (whatever's your fav) will do swimmingly in this recipe- or even just plain water. The aromatics and spices will impart a deep, robust flavor even without a rich stock or broth.
Also, I feel like I finally figured out how to harness my inability to get things done in a timely manner. Stay with me now... I made this soup in the beginning of August when it felt toally out of season... BUT now that I'm finally getting around to posting it, it's starting to feel like fall! Woohoo! I mean.... I totally planned it that way. Or something.
Maybe this week I'll make a thanksgiving turkey for lunch. That seems normal, right?
In the mean time, enjoy this soup.
curried carrot + red lentil soup
1 onion, chopped
a 2in piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1-2 sliced serrano chilies, to taste
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp red chili powder
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1 cup red lentils
2lbs carrots (or mixed veg of your choosing), chopped
1 or 2 small tart apples, chopped
broth (your choice)
freshly ground black pepper
coconut milk (optional)
Grab your favorite soup-making pot, throw it on the stove and set the heat to medium/medium high. Add a good glug of olive oil (or your favorite cooking fat), and the chopped onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add the ginger, garlic, chilies, and spices. Cook for a few minutes, until fragrant. Add lentils to the pot along with the chopped veggies and apples. Add broth, water, or a mix of both to cover. Turn up heat and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer at least 20 min, or until everything is extremely tender. Turn off heat. Blend with an immersion blender, or in a regular blender in batches. Blend to desired texture- I went ahead and blitzed it until fairly smooth, but you could blend just half for a chunkier soup. After blending, taste and season with plenty of salt. If the spice level is too intense, stir in a can of coconut milk for a mellower flavor.