Coconut Lentil Soup

I thought that Asian noodle bowl was a shoe-in for best dinner of the week, but THIS is truly a spectacular dish with minimum effort. My first foray into lentils was such a success, I’ve been looking for an excuse to try the French Green variety. This soup (it’s really a thick stew texture) combines meaty lentils with sweet coconut milk and a blend of Indian-style spices. It’s easy and quick and makes the kitchen smell glorious. The original recipe has a lovely photo and lots of commentary, but note I’ve reduced most of the quantities here.

Coconut Lentil Soup

adapted from The Traveler’s Lunchbox
serves 3-4; 40 minutes to table

1 cup French green lentils (or brown if necessary, but not red)
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 tsp dried thyme or 1 sprig fresh thyme
1 tsp turmeric
3 Tb butter, vegetable or coconut oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
14 oz can coconut milk
a few handfuls fresh spinach, chard or kale, washed, tough stems discarded and cut into ribbons
salt & pepper, to taste

1. Rinse the lentils and pick out any debris. Combine them in a pot with the stock, thyme and tumeric and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer until the lentils are soft, about 20 minutes. If using fresh thyme, remove the sprig.

2. Meanwhile, heat the butter or oil in a small skillet and sauté the onion over medium heat, stirring frequently, until browned and caramelized in places, about 12-15 minutes.

3. Add the garlic and spices and fry just until deeply aromatic, about 30 seconds. Scrape the contents of the skillet into the pot with the lentils, then add the coconut milk and optional greens too.

4. Bring everything back to a gentle boil and cook another 10 minutes, until the greens are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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