With a quick paced lifestyle, a never-ending list of things to do and a lack of quality time to prepare “weekend meals” during the week, most of our Monday through Friday lunches come together in 30-45 minutes or less. This ensures we get homemade, nutritious suppers but that we, I mean I, don’t slave away in the kitchen all day.
Eating is a major part of our lives, but I would rather be working, hanging with friends, reading or playing outdoors than shopping, prepping, washing dishes and cooking all day, every day. No, thanks. I save the elaborate recipes and the ones that require a bit more of my attention for the weekends when time is more abundant.
And so I don’t get bored in the kitchen making the same recipes over and over again each week, I try to keep it fresh and incorporate a variety of flavors and exotic spices. One of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to cook on the quick is to call frequently on the inherent versatility and adaptability of soups. A simple vegetable puree soup can simmer and be ready in half an hour. Add small legumes for protein, greens or just use whatever is in your vegetable drawer and call it a meal.
Lentils make for a hearty soup and cooks quickly making it ideal for weekday fare. This Indian-esque red lentil soup has the added boost of curry along with some rich coconut milk and finishing with a squeeze of lemon for just the right spark of acid to brighten it distinctively. This savory dish comes together in 15 minutes of prep and 30 minutes of hands-off cooking time, which means you can go do a few other things while the soup is simmering quietly on the cooktop.
Yes, curry adds a great deal of flavor to any dish, but did you know it also has serious health benefits? And if you are looking for more creative ways to sneak additional veggies into your diet and those you love, here’s a trick. Boost the soup’s nutrition by dropping a handful of raw, chopped spinach in the bottom of the bowl and then ladle the hot soup over so it melts the spinach–or add several handfuls directly into the soup and let it wilt in the pot right before serving. The green spinach adds a burst of color to the beautifully pale orange soup, as well as texture, a dose of Vitamin A and another welcome punch of potassium.
This soup freezes well and the recipe easily can be doubled to serve a crowd. To extract the most flavor, make it one day and eat it the next day after the soup has plenty of time to marinate and meld in the refrigerator overnight. Or serve it the night you make it and feign the martyr role when you finally agree to eat the leftover soup for lunch tomorrow.
Because leftover soup is always the best soup.
Coconut Curried Red Lentil Soup with Spinach
Lentils are a versatile bean and can be made into incredible and hearty salads, a thick Indian dal or a creamy and luscious soup. Just vary the ingredients, spices and amount of liquid and you can make three distinctly different dishes. This is a light and tasty soup that has diced vegetables, a hint of ginger and the richness of a cup of coconut milk. Serve as a soup, with a dollop of rice or a salad and this is a nutritious meal that makes you yearn for leftovers tomorrow.
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or virgin coconut oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 big carrots or 4 small carrots, chopped
- 4-5 cloves garlic minced
- 2 inches fresh ginger peeled and minced
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups dried red lentils rinsed
- 1 large tomato, diced or 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth or homemade stock of choice
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup coconut milk organic
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 cups raw spinach chopped, about 1/3 cup per bowl, if using raw
- cilantro garnish
- lemon wedges garnish
Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring until tender, about 5-8 minutes.
Add the garlic, ginger, curry powder and turmeric and cook, stirring another few minutes.
Add the salt, pepper, lentils, tomato and bay leaf and then add the broth and water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and allow it to simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
Remove and discard the bay leaf. Stir in the coconut milk and lemon juice and cook until fully incorporated and warmed through, about 2-3 more minutes. If you are adding spinach to the soup, drop it in now and let it melt and meld with the coconut milk and lemon juice.
If you are like me and prefer your soup the day after it was made, either refrigerate or freeze the soup after it completely cools.
Otherwise, serve the soup in big bowls--with a handful of raw spinach in the bowl if you didn't add it to the pot of soup--and garnish with cilantro and serve with a lemon wedge.