Thai Curried Red Lentil and Coconut Milk Soup

Living in an area with such a diversity of good quality, locally-sourced food has switched me into culinary good-times-mode the last few weeks as I’ve experimented with the first Fall vegetables of the season: chanterelle mushrooms, yams, and the odd parsnip and squash to boot. Of course the Summer was great for fresh food, too, but it’s exciting when the season changes and there’s a bevy of new ingredients to work with.

The frenzy of cooking I’ve engaged in of late has turned the Gypsy Roller’s puny kitchenette into a bona fied hot mess as I’ve attempted to prep ingredients, tend to multiple burners on the stove and clean up the aftermath – all with Hunter suctioned leech-like to one leg or attempting to empty out the bottom shelf of the fridge (his latest fixation in addition to chewing on rocks). And then there’s the issue of what to do with all the food I’ve made. With my bf on a cereal-for-dinner kick (sigh…), there was only one thing to do: fill my boots (or should I say ‘pie hole’) with the output of my endeavours in the kitchenette. Sometimes it’s fun not sharing!

Then Canadian Thanksgiving happened last weekend, and while I wasn’t in charge of the cooking, managed to spend three days straight consuming even more of the best of what the season has to offer – minus the turkey, of course, but making up for it calorically with multiple servings of my mother’s whipped cream-topped pumpkin pie. Talk about a food bender.

After such a prolonged bout of festive eating I thought I’d lighten things up a bit this week with a vegan, Thai-inspired soup. I’m a big fan of red curry paste and typically use it in refried rice dishes (this one being one of my favourites). The red curry paste I use is both delicious AND animal ingredient-free, a rarity amongst Asian sauces, which often contain pesky fish ingredients. Its mild, fragrant flavour really works great with the red lentils in this soup. A dash of Sambal Olek adds a kick of spice and a little bit of coconut milk (I used the reduced fat stuff) provides an extra bit of creaminess.

While it feels good to lighten up my diet a bit this week, I’ve already found myself eying up recipes for pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. This definitely isn’t the time of year to go on a diet! I intend on rolling around the trailer in one of these for the remainder of the Winter so I figure if I gain a few pounds it really won’t matter!

Tip: If you use a standard 400ml can of coconut milk to make this recipe, you’ll likely have a cup or so left over. Rather than letting it go to waste, try using it in a smoothie or shake for a little added richness.

Recipe: Thai Curried Red Lentil and Coconut Milk Soup

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon Sambal Olek
  • 3/4 cup uncooked red lentils, rinsed
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup crushed peanuts (for garnish)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened dried coconut (for garnish)

Method:

In a large stock pot over medium heat, saute diced onion, celery and carrot in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, until tender. Add garlic to pot and continue to saute until garlic begins to brown. Add red curry paste and Sambal Olek, and stir until coating other ingredients. Add red lentils and stir again, until everything is combined. Add vegetable broth and bring pot to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft and beginning to fall apart. Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. (Alternately, you can transfer soup to a conventional blender to puree, and then pour back into pot). Add coconut milk and stir until soup has warmed through. In a small skillet over medium heat, toast crushed peanuts and coconut until golden brown. Sprinkle over each serving of soup. Eat!

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