I have a confession.
I love soups and stews. They are so easy. Sometimes my kids sigh when we have soup again. I try, but some days all I can come up with is another soup. Lucky for them, I rarely make the same soup twice. I am so glad that fall has begun to arrive here, and a warm bowl of soup or hot tea can tempt most anyone.
Last week we received our first fall share from a local CSA, Community Supported Agriculture. We like the idea of supporting a local farmer. This is our first season to try this, but the jury is still out after yesterday’s second pick-up. Feel free to search for a CSA in your own area through the link, but I’ll save my review until I have a fully informed opinion. I’m not sure where we’ll stand after this season is over, but right now I’ve paid for this produce, so now I have to figure out how to use it. One way or the other it is true seasonal eating; making due with what is growing locally right now. Currently I have dozens of pickling cucumbers, several varieties of greens, okra, green onions, and lemongrass. We aren’t a pickle loving family, but I may try lacto-fermenting the smaller ones. I like to make my own sauerkraut and kombucha; it must be time to diversify.
The lemongrass is an ingredient that I love. It’s not one that I search out at the grocery store, but when it comes included, I won’t argue. Since we can’t have citrus (I told you the list was long and tedious. You didn’t believe me did you?), the flavor is a welcome change. Here is a video that teaches you how to cut lemongrass.
Before I give you my lentil soup recipe I must first share my curry powder blend. Commercial blends that may be gluten free are still not safe for my family. My oldest reacts severely to peppers and I have an anaphylactic response to cinnamon. Both feature prominently in curry powder. I loved curry even before I discovered that I don’t have asthma, I have food allergies. A solution was required. If you’ve never heard of some of these ingredients, try your closest Indian or Middle Eastern grocery. Not only will you find these ingredients, you should find great prices too. If you can use packaged curry powder, feel free, it will be just as tasty.
Ruth’s Special Blend Curry Powder
3 Tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
2 Tbsp ground cardamom
2 Tbsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground nutmeg
After the children go to bed, so you won’t get distracted and burn anything. Place seeds in a dry skillet and toast on medium until lightly browned. Stir constantly. I do this by smell more than sight. When it smells good, it’s probably done. Remove and cool.
Place seeds and powders into a blender or coffee grinder. Blend on high until well incorporated. Store in an airtight container.
(Honestly, if you can find them all ground that’s even easier and you can skip the toasting. The best flavors come out when you toast the seeds.)
Now, on to the good stuff. It is Wednesday, so here is my first vegan recipe. I promise only to post fast worthy recipes on Wednesday and Fridays. I don’t want to tempt you any more than I want to tempt myself.
Curried Lemongrass Lentil Soup
1/2 medium onion diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch knob ginger, minced
2 stalks lemongrass, finely chopped
2 Tbsp safflower or coconut oil (pretty much any mild oil aside from olive oil)
2 cups lentils
1 Tbsp curry powder
3 cups vegetable broth
3-4 cups water
1/2 bunch kale, to taste, cut into ribbons
1 can coconut milk (optional)
salt to taste
In your stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and salt. Saute until onions are translucent.
Add lentils and curry powder to the pot and stir for 3-4 minutes.
Add broth and water. Bring to a boil, then lower to simmer and cover with a lid. Stir occasionally and add water if necessary to keep the lentils from sticking to the bottom. After about 25 minutes your lentils should be tender. Cook a few minutes more if needed
Mix in coconut milk if desired. Layer sliced kale over the top and replace lid. Steam the kale for about 5 minutes. Salt as needed, stir, and serve.