Sometimes, you wind up with an ingredient that you have to invent uses for. It doesn’t fit into the things you normally make, you have no idea how to use it, and none of your stockpiled recipe ideas mention it anywhere. So you start making things up.
A while ago, my mother gave me a bag of red lentils. Not just any old bag. An enormous, unending bag of red lentils, so authentically designed for frequent lentil cooks that Lakshmi is on the outside of the bag. It was an incredibly thoughtful present, and I do love cooking beans/lentils/etc., so I was excited about it. I have to say that I ended up using most of the bag to make a weird rice/lentil mixture. Every time I needed a grain for a stir fry or something, I’d do 3/4 cup rice and 1/4 cup lentils. It added some texture and fiber…and that was pretty much the only idea I had. All my other lentil recipes called for firmer green or brown lentils.
That is, until I decided to make some red lentil soup. I have to say I wish I’d never concocted the rice/lentil mixture; this soup is so much better than that.
Curried Red Lentil Soup with Dried Cherries and Cilantro
from Martha Stewart Living
2 tsp. safflower oil (or just vegetable oil if you’re a plain person)
3 Tbs. finely chopped peeled ginger (from a 2-in piece)
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped (2 Tbs.)
1 large shallot, finely chopped (4 Tbs.)
2 carrots, finely diced (about 1 cup)
2 tsp. curry powder
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk, divided
1 cup red lentils
1/3 cup chopped dried cherries
3 Tbs. finely chopped cilantro stems, plus 3 Tbs. cilantro leaves for garnish
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook ginger, garlic, shallots and carrots, stirring often, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add curry powder and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add in 1 1/4 tsp. salt and 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 of soup through a fine sieve into a bowl, reserving the solids. Puree the strained liquid and the remaining soup in a food processor until smooth. Reheat after blending and stir in reserved solids.
At this point, if you’re going to freeze your soup, this is the time to do it. If not, stir in some of the cherries and cilantro stems, then ladle soup into bowls. Swirl the remaining coconut milk and garnish with cherries and cilantro leaves.
Per serving: 348 calories, 8 g saturated fat, 48 g carbohydrates, 15 g protein, 12 g dietary fiber