Over the past couple of months I’ve been trying to use up the aging (and quite substantial) pile of dried spices in my cupboard. I’m embarrassed to admit that some of the more obscure ones have already been with me through my last three or four moves to various apartments around the country. Experimenting with my own curry powders has been one of the best ways to make a dent in my stockpile, so lately I’ve been trying to put curry anywhere it makes sense.
The simple, red lentil soup has been a favorite of mine for some time. I usually enjoy it drizzled with a little plain yogurt and sprinkled with some fresh cilantro. This time, however, I seized the opportunity to use some of my curry powder along with a leek that was feeling neglected in the fridge. I love the contrast that the crispy leeks and spicy curry brought to the creamy soup. In fact, the leeks are so addictive that you may want to make a double recipe (for snacking purposes) – if you do, just be sure to cook them in separate batches so they don’t steam and get soggy.
coconut red lentil soup with crispy curried leeks
Yield: 4 generous servings
- 2 cups dried red lentils
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced or grated
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 large leek
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon any curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- Rinse the lentils and sort through to remove any debris.
- Put the coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook a few seconds until fragrant but not browned. Add the stock, coconut milk, and lentils, along with a pinch of sea salt. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat (keep your eye on it as coconut milk can boil over easily).
- Turn the heat down to low and keep the lid ajar. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils soften and fall apart. Add the lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- While the soup is cooking, prepare the leek. Remove the dark green portion and cut the leek in half lengthwise. Rinse thoroughly to remove any dirt hiding between the layers. Now remove the root end and cut the leek into 3-inch sections. Thinly slice each section lengthwise so that you end up with thin sticks (called a “julienne”). Make sure the leeks are dry before cooking them.
- Heat the 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the leeks. Cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks start to brown (about 5 minutes). Remove the leeks from the pan and spread in a single layer on a paper towel. Immediately sprinkle with the curry powder and salt. The leeks will become more crispy as they cool.
- Serve the soup warm with a small handful of leeks piled onto each portion.