When I’m cooking for myself (as in not cooking for work), I find it really difficult to precisely follow a recipe. But as I was flipping through the February issue of Gourmet Magazine, I saw a photo of curried squash and red lentil soup that made my mouth water. I decided then and there that I was going to follow this recipe to a tee.
And I did, mostly anyhow. Ok, so I used olive oil instead of a combination of vegetable oil and butter, and pretty much doubled the amount of ginger. And I didn’t make cilantro oil because I just don’t like cilantro enough to sacrifice that much of my precious olive oil to the cause (I know, the recipe called for vegetable oil but that’s just not my style). But that was it, seriously!
I even went along with the recipe’s suggestion to serve the soup with basmati rice!
I was so proud of myself when I sat down with my steaming bowl of soup and rice. Then I took my first bite and wondered where the flavor went? The soup was chock-full of aromatics and vegetables, both sweet and savory, not to mention the fact that I was expecting some sort of texture with all that squash and lentils. It was really just watered-down, mushy vegetables, but definitely had the potential to be more.
In the end I managed to save the soup by adding more curry powder, tons of salt, and a can of lite coconut milk. It turned out rich like I thought it would and became something I’d eagerly make again.
Did anyone try this soup from the original recipe? I went back and read the reviews on epicurious.com, which seemed to be mixed. Most people felt as I did that it was good but watery, although others said it turned out just fine. Either way, try this version with the cocount milk – you’ll love it!
Curried Squash & Red Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 medium butternut squash (about 1 1/2 lbs), peeled, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon Kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed
2 quarts water
1 can lite coconut milk
Lemon juice, to taste
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
Basmati rice, cooked
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the onion, carrot, celery, butternut squash and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir occassionaly until the vegetables are soft and beginning to caramelize, about 20 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and cook for 2 minutes, then add the lentils and water.
Increase the heat to high and bring the water to a simmer, then decrease the heat to low and cover. Simmer until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. Stir in the cocount milk and season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Serve 1 1/2 cups soup with 1/4 cup cooked basmati rice. Garnish with minced cilantro.