When I flipped through Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street cookbook weeks ago, his spicy red lentil stew immediately grabbed my attention. The stew is heavy on coconut flavor, which I love in my soups. I could feel my mouth water as I stared at the photo of the rich, creamy yellow broth.
The stew was influenced by Indian cuisine, Goan cuisine in particular, and it was delicious. I loved the creaminess of the red lentils and coconut as well as the blend of spices he used.
I have made the soup several times and modified the original recipe in several ways. One big change is that I used much less coconut milk: I used 3/4 cup instead of an entire 14-ounce can. Although full-fat coconut milk imparts great flavor and gives richness to a dish, I don’t want a weeknight dish to be too heavy. I also added some quinoa to make the red lentil soup more of a balanced meal. In addition, I changed the vegetables in the recipe, and altered the cooking process in the beginning. Finally, I doubled the amount of red pepper flakes in the recipe because I could barely detect any heat in the original recipe. Don’t worry, the heat should not be overwhelming here!
COOKING NOTES FOR THE RED LENTIL SOUP
Can you substitute any of the spices?
If the spices listed below are not easily accessible, I recommend using a mild yellow curry powder instead of the dried spices. Often times, yellow curry spice blends include those spices anyway. I would use at least a tablespoon of the yellow curry powder and add more if needed.
Can I use another grain?
Yes, but make sure to use a grain that cooks in roughly 30 minutes, such as white rice, bulgur wheat, or millet.
Other ways to eat the red lentil soup
I LOVE the leftovers of the red lentil soup. The soup will thicken the next day. I reheated leftover soup and poured it over cooked bulgur like a sauce. The bulgur tasted amazing with a side of baked salmon. You can swap the salmon for any protein you prefer, such as tofu, chickpeas, or chicken.
MORE RECIPES FEATURING COCONUT MILK
This recipe uses about 1/2 a can of coconut milk. Wondering how you can use the rest of it? Here are some suggestions:
- Red Curry Wonton Soup with Zucchini Noodles
- Coconut Rice with Hint of Lime
- Hot & Sour Coconut Noodle Soup
- Curried Chickpeas with Mint & Cilantro Chutney
- Zucchini Noodles with Tomato & Coconut Broth
Vegan Coconut Red Lentil Soup with Quinoa
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (virgin coconut oil is great too)
- 1 1/4 cups diced yellow onions
- 2 1/2 tablespoons minced ginger
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
- 1/3 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 5 1/2 cups water, divided
- 3/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
- sliced almonds, toasted
- fried shallots
- chili oil
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook them for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to keep the onions from burning. Next, add the ginger, garlic, and carrots and stir for another minute. Add the salt, mustard seeds, turmeric, coriander, fennel, and red pepper flakes. Stir to coat the vegetables with the spices.
- Add the red lentils, quinoa and 5 cups of water. Save the remaining 1/2 cup of water for later. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the water to boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer the lentils and quinoa for 30 minutes, covered. You want this to be a low simmer, so you may want to transfer the pot to a smaller burner.
- Uncover the pot and stir in the peas, remaining water, coconut milk, and lime juice. Turn off the heat and taste the soup. Adjust the seasonings, adding more salt if necessary.
- Transfer the soup to bowls and top with toasted coconut flakes, sliced almonds, fried shallots, and chili oil, if desired.