So when people hear about the Soup365 project, the first question they ask is usually: "Are you crazy?"
And the second one is generally "What does your family think about eating all that soup?"
Now, honestly, I've been waiting for some Julie and Julia-style drama in which my family rebels against our new weird year-long eating pattern and I have to respond with tears or threats and then they respond with bitterness and alienation and then finally we all band together for the final stretch of the project and there's tender reconciliation and a triumphant emotional celebration and then ROLL CREDITS. But, somewhat anticlimactically, no one has objected to soup yet. (The year is, however, still young. Stay tuned.)
In fact, the other day Fisher sent me this e-mail:
FROM: Fisher [e-mail address redacted]
SUBJECT: Here's a soup.
…Terse, perhaps, but this Mama will take validation wherever she can get it. Last night, validation took the form of each kid eating two large (!) bowls of this soup and then being enthusiastic about having it again today. (Sorry, kids; it has to go to work with your father for his dinner. You get something new and different instead! Maybe pappa al pomodoro.)
(BTW: Coconut milk is my New Best Thing in soups. It's not coconutty in that weird fake-though-it's-real way that shredded/flaked coconut is. In fact, it's quite mellow and backgroundy here, providing enough delicious delicious saturated fat to effectively carry the flavors of the spices without asserting itself and shoving the delicate character of the red lentils offstage.)
Coconut-Red Lentil Stew
Serves six-ish, maybe eight-ish? How hungry are you?
Adapted from this recipe at Epicurious
1 cup yellow split peas
1 cup red lentils
7 cups water or vegetable broth (I used half-strength veg broth)
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3 Tbsp grated/minced fresh ginger, divided
2 Tbsp curry powder
2 Tbsp butter, ghee or olive oil
6 scallions, thinly sliced, divided
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 small can tomato paste
1 tsp to 1 Tbsp Drunken Angel or other thick hot sauce
1 14-ounce can coconut milk, well shaken
1 to 2 tsp salt
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Rinse the split peas and lentils under cool water until rinse water runs clear. Place in a soup pot with water or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil over high heat; when it reaches a boil, add carrots and 1 Tbsp grated ginger. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until split peas are tender, about 30 minutes.
Place a small, dry skillet over medium-high heat. Add curry powder and cook, stirring constantly, until toasted and very fragrant. It will deepen a couple of shades in color, but don't let it brown. As soon as it's sufficiently toasted, pour it out of the skillet into a small bowl or plate and set aside.
Heat butter or oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add half of scallions, raisins and remaining ginger; cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly and vigorously, one minute more. Remove from heat; stir in curry powder and hot sauce.
When split peas are tender, whisk curry mixture into soup, stirring until very smooth. Add coconut milk and 1 tsp. salt. Simmer uncovered about 15 to 20 minutes, or until flavors are well blended and soup is sufficiently thickened for your liking. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Serve with reserved scallions and plenty of cilantro sprinkled over each bowl.