It seems that I’m welcoming Spring with an unwelcome visitor — a head cold. I refuse to succumb! First of all, I never say I have a cold, I say I’m fighting a cold. Doesn’t that sound feisty and like I’m on the road to good health? Secondly, I don’t take over-the-counter cold remedies because something in them revs me up and it’s not pretty. Rather, I believe in rest, lots of liquid, social isolation, ridiculous amounts of citrus and good home remedies from my kitchen. Like ginger and lemon tea, nourishing bone broth, and hearty, comforting soups.
I have so many soups to choose from here on the blog — almost 40 in total. The first that comes to mind is this kale soup with ginger and lemon that I came up with the last time I had a cold. I craved soup today, but wanted to make something new. My idea was a sweet potato soup, but not a creamed version. I tend to puree many of my soups, but it’s as important to play up texture as it is flavour. Today’s soup is like the offspring of this curried pumpkin, coconut and chickpea soup and this butternut squash, corn and red lentils soup. It takes after both soups that inspired it in some ways, but is still uniquely its own recipe.
I wouldn’t call the spicing in this soup a curry, although I did use mustard seeds, kalonji and ground turmeric, along with a healthy dollop of grated ginger for its health benefits. Since I wasn’t going to be pureeing it, I spent some extra time dicing the onions and the sweet potato. Yes, it’s a bit of a job to cut three sweet potatoes into quarter-inch dice, but there’s nothing like getting into a good rhythm with a sharp chef’s knife and your chopping board. And for richness, I borrowed the ideas of coconut milk and red lentils.
So how did it turn out? The sweet potatoes were tender but brought real body to each spoonful, and the red lentils melted into the broth, resulting in a velvety texture. And I thought it was pretty delicious, too, which is really saying something considering I can’t taste much at the moment. I can only imagine how good it will be tomorrow when I’m feeling better. All you have to do is look at that ingredient list to know that it’s a winner in the flavour department. And if I say so, don’t those seedy lavash crackers look like a tasty accompaniment?
Sweet Potato, Coconut & Red Lentil Soup
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp kalonji
- 2 tsp brown mustard seeds
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 large cooking onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 6-inch red chili pepper, quartered lengthwise, seeded & sliced thinly
- 1 tbsp finely grated ginger
- 1-3/4 pounds sweet potatoes (about 3 medium), cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 400 ml can coconut milk (I prefer full fat, but bought light by accident – oops)
- 5 cups vegetable stock
- 1/2 tsp salt
- about 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup red lentils (picked over and rinsed)
Heat the coconut oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the kalonji, mustard seed and turmeric and stir. When the mustard seeds start popping, add in the onion, garlic, red chili pepper and ginger. Stir well, lowering the heat if the pan seems too hot.
Tumble in the sweet potato and work it around until it’s all jumbled in with the aromatics and spices. Next, stir in the coconut milk, then the stock, salt and pepper. Cover, raise the heat and bring the pot to a boil. Now it’s time to add in the red lentils. As soon as the pot returns to a boil, lower the heat to low and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. Stir from time to time to keep the lentils from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
The soup is ready when the lentils have more or less melted into the broth, and the sweet potatoes are tender, but still retain their shape. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary before serving.