Tag Archives: curry

Curried red lentil soup

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Come January, I always seem to be craving foods that are a little lighter, “cleaner”, healthier, whatever. This soup is one result of those cravings. I made a big crockpot of it on New Year’s day, had some friends over for dinner, and served it alongside a salad of mixed greens and lemon tahini dressing. I cooked up another batch today, so it seemed an appropriate time to share the recipe.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I find lentils, while delicious, cheap, and nutritious, can get a little heavy and stodgy on their own. This recipe breaks up the lentils with a slew of vegetables, then fires and brightens with the addition of Thai chilis and a dash of lime juice. Coconut milk adds a creamy finish that separates the dish from your stereotypical cheap student fare (without actually breaking the grocery budget, excellent). If you’re feeling yourself held a little too closely in winter’s grip, this soup is sure to loosen it’s hold with a shot of delicious at the dinner table.

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Curried red lentil soup
Serves 8-10

Ingredients
3 c. dried red lentils
4 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, cut into 1/2″ dice
4 cloves garlic
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4″ dice
3 zucchini or yellow squash, cut into 3/4″ dice
2 stalks of celery, cut into 3/4″ dice
3 Thai chili peppers, finely diced
2 tbsp yellow curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
8 c. vegetable broth
1 14-oz can coconut milk.
Juice of one lime

Method

1. Soak lentils in cold water overnight (you can skip this step, plan on extending the cooking time by 10-20 minutes, and adding additional liquid). When ready to make the soup, place lentils in a large soup or stockpot

2. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil to medium heat. Saute the onions until soft and slightly translucent, 6-10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 2-3 minutes more. Transfer onion and garlic mixture to stockpot with lentils.

3. Add 1 tbsp oil to skillet, saute carrots for 8-12 minutes, until soft and with a few browned edges. Transfer to stockpot. Repeat with zucchini and celery.

4. Add chilis, curry powder, cumin, and coriander. Turn heat to medium and stir all ingredients together until evenly coated with spices. Continue stirring for 2 minutes more. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook soup, covered, for 25-30 minutes, until lentils are cooked through and soft. Add coconut milk and lime juice and allow soup to heat through. Remove from heat and serve.

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Curried cauliflower and sweet potato soup (vegan)

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Last week, the almost unthinkable happened. It got cold here. Temperatures dipped below freezing overnight! I wore a heavy wool sweater and my fleece-lined winter raincoat and a scarf and gloves to walk to work! We broke out the fuzzy slippers and the hot water bottles and generally hunkered down. And I made soup.

I love soup at almost any time of year, but when it’s cold out (and all you hardier types in areas where there is “real winter” can stop laughing at my reaction to a little flirting with the freezing point now, thanks), soup can especially hit the spot. Some how a hot bowl of liquid just warms you up that much faster than a hot plate of solids.

Of course, for your extra cold weather, you want an extra warming and satisfying bowl of soup. For this recipe, I add a hefty dose of spicy Thai chilis, and temper them with a can of coconut milk. Cauliflower to make sure we’re still getting some vegetable matter in, and sweet potato for a hint of sweetness and a nice dose of starch (vital when your body is fighting to maintain homeostasis, right?). Blend it all together, and the result is a thick, velvety soup with a sneaky kick of heat (for those of you who prefer a milder soup, I’d suggest adding just one chili pepper, then increasing the heat in individual bowls with a little hot sauce as desired).

M., who has a pretty low tolerance for consecutive nights of the same dinner, actually requested that we eat this soup for dinner on Monday, he loved it so much on Sunday night. The weather’s warmed up again this week, but I’ll have this recipe filed away and ready to deploy for the next little freeze. For those of you who are still feeling winter’s grip, try this to help you through.

Because we’re almost always freezing some part of our soups and trying to maximize available freezer space, the recipe below doesn’t contain a lot of liquid and may come out too thick for some tastes. Feel free to dilute individual bowls with a little more hot broth before serving to achieve your desired consistency.

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Curried Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup
serves 8

Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, roughly diced
3 cloves garlic
3 Thai chili peppers (the very small green kind)
3 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp asafoetida powder*
1 sweet potato (about 6 oz), peeled and cut into 8-10 pieces
1 head of cauliflower (approx. 2 lbs), cut into pieces ~2-3″ long
4 c. vegetable or chicken broth
1 14-oz can coconut milk
salt, to taste

*This spice can be a little tricky to find, I’ve had success at Indian groceries or natural foods stores with a good bulk spice section. If you can’t find it, the soup will still taste fine without.

Method
1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil to a medium heat. Add the onions, stir to coat with oil, and allow to cook until onions are soft and slightly translucent, about 8-10 minutes

2. Add garlic, cook for 1-2 minutes. Add chili, curry powder, and asafoetida, cook for 1-2 minutes.

3. Add sweet potato and cauliflower, stir to coat with spice and onion mixture. Add broth, cover pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and allow soup to simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes, until cauliflower is cooked and will fall apart with a firm touch from a wooden spoon.

4. If you have an immersion blender, puree the soup right in the pot. If not, transfer soup to a mixing bowl, then use a food processor to puree batches of soup, returning each pureed batch to the pot. Be careful not to overfill the food processor (I try not to cover the top of the central knob piece on the s-blade).

5. Add the coconut milk to the pureed soup and allow to heat thoroughly (avoid boiling the soup after adding the coconut milk).

Thin with broth if desired, serve hot.

Braised cauliflower with three seed sauce (Vegan With A Vengeance)

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I’ve mentioned the Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook at least once or twice already on this blog. VWAV is one of the first (I think the absolute first) cookbook by the now ridiculously well-known Isa Chandra Moskowitz, who’s name has become practically synonomous with tasty, approachable, and slightly irreverant vegan cooking and baking. While this is not the first vegan cookbook I ever owned, it was the first one that I really seriously used. I also liked it enough that I went on to acquire copies of Moskowitz’s later books: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, Veganomicon, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, and Vegan Brunch. And even though I’m no longer vegan, I still enjoy looking through these books and taking inspiration from their pages.

This three-seed cauliflower braise is an example of the great balance Moskowitz strikes in her best recipes: simple enough for a beginner cook, but still beautifully flavorful and with a few twists to make it stand out. I was initially thinking of being a bit lazy and using powdered versions of the cumin and mustard for this recipe, but when I realized I was getting low on a few other items, I decided it was worth making a trip over to the crunchy food co-op with the extensive spice collection after all.

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Although I’m sure the dish still would have been delicious made the lazy way, there was something about having the whole seeds included that really added to the effect of the dish. I especially liked the inclusion of fennel seeds, not an ingredient I would usually think to add to a curry dish (though it is sometimes included in garam masala blends). It adds a sweet undertone, not to mention helping to distiguish the cauliflower from the chickpea curry I initially paired it with for Monday evening’s dinner.
Later in the week, I skipped the extra curry and just added some plain chickpeas to the cauliflower to make an easy hot lunch. Good stuff.

Braised cauliflower with three-seed sauce (adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
28 oz. diced canned tomatoes
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 bay leaf
1 head cauliflower (about 2 lbs), cut into florets
pinch of sugar

1. Drain tomatoes, reserving 1 c. of the juice.

2. In a large pot or skillet, heat the olive oil to medium heat. Add the onion and saute until soft and slightly translucent, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper, salt, cumin, mustard, fennel, turmeric, and bay leaf. Stir and saute for another 1-2 minutes.

3. Add the cauliflower, stir, and cook for another two minutes. Add the tomatoes, cook for 5 more minutes. Finally, add the reserved tomato juice and sugar. Cover for 3-5 minutes, until sauce is bubbling. Turn heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or so, until the sauce has cooked down and thickened a bit (there will still be a fair amount of liquid, don’t try to cook it totally dry!). Remove from heat and serve.

Method

What we ate: curry and greens bowl

Wednesday’s dinner was a favorite of mine, a bowl full of curry and greens:
 
Curry and Greens
Keeping it simple
 
In general, we eat solid meals off of plates around here. Our dishwasher will take more plates than bowls, and of course some things just work better on a plate. But I still like eating dinner out of a bowl from time to time, it feels very cozy and comforting.
 
Continue reading What we ate: curry and greens bowl

What we ate: Curried chickpeas and garlicky mashed cauliflower, with recipe

Last night’s meal was another combinations of freezer food, leftovers and freshly prepared, an approach I’ve really come to love for putting together an interesting meal without too much trouble. In this case, the chickpeas were part of a huge pot that I threw together several weekends ago: onions, garlic, chickpeas, curry powder, a few crushed red peppers, turmeric. Super simple but super tasty.
 
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Continue reading What we ate: Curried chickpeas and garlicky mashed cauliflower, with recipe