It’s no secret around here that I like to cook big when I can. A big pot of beans, a big pot of soup, a big pot of chili. Doubling a recipe saves time and isn’t much more work than making a single recipe. Usually when I double up, I’m feeding a crowd or making one meal for tonight’s dinner and another to freeze for another time. But then there are occasions when I make a huge pot of something and just eat it twice a day for a week. This soup is one of those somethings. It’s that good.
You might think that March 2 is a little early to be declaring anything the “Best of 2012.” But I’m pretty sure. I’ve had a go-to red lentil soup recipe for years (it was The Best Red Lentil Soup of 2008 or thereabouts, and has held the title since). This soup has replaced it with a vengeance.
I knew it would be good, because it was recommended to me by the same friend who gave me that amazing chilaquiles recipe. She is a great cook and discerning recipe collector, and when she tells me to try something I always do. This recipe is slightly adapted from 101 Cookbooks, which is another good sign, because I always like Heidi Swanson’s flavorful and sometimes quirky cooking. In this case her stroke of genius is to add raisins to the soup, which plump up into barely-there bursting bits of sweetness mingled with the curry and coconut flavors. In case you are feeling cautious to begin with, I will give you the regular-size recipe and you can use your discretion as to doubling it. (You definitely will next time.)
The Best Red Lentil Soup of 2012: Bring 1 c. red lentils and 1 c. yellow split peas (both picked over and well-rinsed) to a boil in 7 c. water. Reduce heat to a simmer, add a chopped carrot and 2 tsp. finely minced ginger (I like to grate it with my Microplane), and simmer until split peas are entirely soft, 30-45 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a gob of coconut oil in a separate pan and saute a bunch of chopped green onions (reserve a handful for garnish) with 2 more Tbsp. minced ginger and 1/3 c. golden raisins. After two minutes, add 2 Tbsp. Indian curry powder and saute for another minute, stirring constantly, then add 1/3 c. tomato paste and stir for one minute more. When the lentils and peas are soft, add the tomato-spice mixture to the soup with a can of coconut milk and 2 tsp. salt. Simmer uncovered for a bit to blend the flavors and thicken the soup; you can adjust the consistency with more water or more cooking. Serve over cooked brown rice, garnished with those reserved chopped green onions, chopped cilantro, and a dollop of Greek yogurt. If you try this and know of a better red lentil soup recipe, please let me know in the comments. I never get tired of lentil soup.