You will thank me for sharing this recipe. It is so easy to make and a total crowd pleaser. It’s from Ottolenghi’s latest book, Simple, which I received from my friend Gwen (who gifts me a fantastic cookbook for my birthday each year). I made this for a party of 14 over the holidays, and it was the perfect way to kick off the meal. The cilantro stems are a brilliant addition. While you can go the unblended route, I pureed everything before serving it. I figured the texture would be more appealing to a large group. I’ve made this for guests two times in as many weeks and am looking forward to the next batch. Since I always have all of the necessary ingredients in the house, it will most definitely become one of those fall-back recipes I whip up when I don’t know what to make when I get home from a long day or a late swim. Especially on a cold winter’s night. Like tonight maybe.
2 tablespoons coconut oil or sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped (1 1/4 cups)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2-inch piece of ginger, peeled, finely chopped
1 tablespoon medium curry powder
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¾ cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-ounce can chopped tomatoes
1 1/4 cups cilantro stems, roughly chopped, plus 1/4 cup leaves, to garnish
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
2 1/2 cups water
Lime wedges (for serving)
Put the oil into a medium saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Add the onion and fry for 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft and caramelized. Add the curry powder, pepper flakes, garlic and ginger and continue to fry for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the lentils, stir through for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes, cilantro stems, water, 1 tsp. of salt, and a very generous grind of pepper.
Pour the coconut milk into a bowl and gently whisk until smooth and creamy. Set aside 1/4 cup—you’ll need this when serving—and add the remaining coconut milk to the soup. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to medium and simmer gently for 25 minutes, until the lentils are soft but still holding their shape. Add a little bit more water—about 7-10 tbsps.—if your soup needs thinning.
This is where I blend the soup (in batches) before serving, to create more of a puree. If you prefer the texture the cilantro stems and lentils lend, just serve without blitzing. Drizzle with reserved coconut milk and top with more cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.
Do Ahead: Soup (without toppings) can be made 4 days in advance. Let cool, cover and refrigerate.