Carrot Red Lentil Soup with Asian Spices

This is from one of my favorite cookbooks — The Union Square Cafe. Easy to make and incredibly delicious.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 cup sliced onions
3/4 cup peeled and sliced parsnips
4 cups peeled and sliced carrots
1/2 cup sliced celery
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup red lentils
1/4 cup basmati rice
7 cups vegetable stock or water
3/4 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons lime juice

1) Heat olive oil in a 3-quart pot or Dutch oven over low heat. Stir in ginger and spices and cook for 1 minute. Add onions, parsnips, carrot, and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Raise heat to medium, cover, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until vegetables are softened, but not browned.
2) Stir in lentils and basmati rice, mixing until well combined with vegetables. Add stock or water and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until vegetables and rice are tender. In batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth.
3) Return soup to saucepan, bring back to a boil, and stir in coconut milk and lime juice. Cook for 1 more minute and serve. Yield: 6 servings.

I usually serve it with a little heavy cream or coconut milk swirled on top, and a few cilantro leaves.

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