Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I made Coconut Ginger Lentil Soup

Recently my cousin Rachel sent me an email simply entitled "YUMMY" with an intriguing recipe for Coconut Ginger Lentil Soup. The recipe was from her best childhood friend, Georgia Graham, who happens to be the sister of the drummer from Blind Melon and the inspiration for the video for "No Rain". They both attended Miss Betty's School of Dance back in Columbus, Mississippi (where my maternal family is from), and a photo of Georgia dressed up in a bee costume for a recital inspired their album cover (above) and the concept for the video. Crazy, right?

I decided to make it one very chilly Saturday night while Suzanne made a chocolate souffle. There were a lot of delicious smells going on in our apartment that night, let me tell you.

Here it is--the official Blind Melon Bee Girl Coconut Ginger Lentil Soup, comments in bold:


1 T vegetable oil1 small onion, diced1 carrot, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 celery stalk, diced (I HATE celery. When I teach the vocabulary word "odious" to my ninth graders, I always use celery as an example. Maybe the only food I detest. But I guess it is necessary for flavor. So I chopped it up real fine and cooked it for a long time.)
1 t red chili flakes (forgot to buy so I just used red pepper flakes and a little cayenne)
1 t cumin seeds, freshly ground using a mortar & pestle (Just used the pre-ground stuff)
1 T grated ginger root
1 T curry paste (I used Patak's Balti) (I used Thai Kitchen red curry)
1 c red lentils
3 c water or vegetable stock (I thought it needed way more liquid than this. I guess it depends on the kind of consistency you prefer, but I used about 5 cups of broth and the soup was still pretty thick.)
1 tiny can coconut milk
1 T candied ginger, diced
yogurt (optional)

In a large soup pot, heat up the oil and saute the onion, garlic, carrots and celery until soft, about 5 minutes. Add in the cumin, chili flakes, ginger root and curry paste and saute for another minute. Stir in the lentils and add in the water or stock. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until lentils are somewhat soft. Add in the coconut milk and the candied ginger and simmer for another 10 minutes. (I ended up needing to cook this a lot longer for the lentils to get soft enough. Maybe about 40 minutes total.) Serve with a dollop of yogurt.

I had never cooked with candied ginger before, and had no idea what to look for in the grocery store. It ended up being in the bulk section. Here is what it looks like:

Here is what the soup and souffle looked like cooking together side by side:

Overall, this was a big success. I might have gone a LITTLE too crazy with the cayenne. It had some serious kick. Also, I thought it was maybe a little TOO gingery. Next time I would play up the savory flavors a little more to counter the sweetness. Here's what the finished product looked like:

In general, I recommend cooking with lentils all the time. They are so cheap and healthy and easy to cook--no rinsing required, and they co ok pretty quickly compared to other dry beans. Sometime I will post my recipe for Crushed Lentil Soup, which I make allllll the time. But I w ill definitely integrate this soup into my regular lentil repertoire.

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