Coconut Red Lentil Soup

Posted by aBethke on Sunday Nov 18, 2018 Under Soup Review

[Note] This is a slightly modified version of the original Soup Review I wrote. Edits were made to remove personal details from the original version which was written and shared with my colleagues at work.

 

[Note, the second] This recipe was given to me by a colleague at work from his wife after we had been discussing food and cooking for some time. Eating largely vegetarian themselves, I had asked persistently for some recipes to try and then after receiving them, took weeks myself to actually make one. This first Soup Review was written partially as a thank you to them for being patient to get feedback on the recipe.

 

An in-development soup

An in-development soup

How does one truly approach a review for a recipe they’ve never had and are also making themselves? Tis no easy task, especially when the recipe was provided with variant options. Nonetheless, prepared ingredients and recipe at the ready, I ventured into the kitchen to make my first ever Coconut Red Lentil Soup.

Having been quite some time since I had lentils it was hard to remember if they had a signature flavour to them, so right away my mind fixated on the coconut and was whisked away to Caribbean Islands, expecting something along the lines of a spicy coconut flavoured borth with a velvety texture. It was clear to me very quickly however, that my mind had traveled to the wrong part of flavour country with this assumption as I began to add all the spices to the mix and the smells wafted up to tantalize my senses.

To remain true to the recipe that was provided, I tried to follow the instructions precisely, which of course presented a comical moment when I realized there was a step missing about when to add the sweet potatoes to the mix. Not one to be perplexed by this particular tuber, I pressed on after a short ponderance, so as to avoid any precipitous happenstance, and placed the sweet potato into the pot earlier in the process so it would come out soft while adding some of its starch to the broth. For the greens I chose some fresh and crispy Kale, lightly massaged before it was added. Resisting the temptation of more exotic flavours I held off on trying the variant with Garam Masala, a spice I have readily on hand compared to Turmeric, and stuck with the base ingredients in the recipe. The one place I may have deviated more than intended was with the addition of the minced garlic. This one ingredient, for no reason obvious to even myself, was not measured precisely like the rest, but was instead eyeballed and in that regard I think I would have use a touch more garlic if I made this soup again in the future. The one other place I ended up being lackadaisical, this time in the procurement of the lime leaf garnish, was simply due to the fact that the local store didn’t have them, so I substituted a tiny squirt of lime juice instead.

The prep completed, the soup simmering, and smells delighting the senses, I got a bowl, and with ladle in hand I reached not once, not twice, but thrice into the pot to serve a portion, immediately concerned this might be an insufficient amount of soup to sate the hunger of a man of my particular dimensions.

With a sense of purpose and a hungry belly, my spoon dove into the broth and emerged like a breaching whale, full of bits and broth. Up it soared from the bowl to my waiting maw before its final descent, post-mastication, down into the darkened depths of my gurgling gut.

What did I taste you wonder? An explosion of flavour swirled in my mouth and my initial verdict was simply, “This is a good soup”. But a good flavour alone is not the hallmark of a good soup in my opinion; other factors must be considered! The yield of the recipe proved prodigious for the modest amount of ingredients involved, a good sign after the initial flavour. The time it took to make was not too bad, putting the meal in a mid-range of time required to for prep to table presentation. So with a good flavour, large yield, and mid-range prep time this proved to be a viable vegetarian soup recipe that would likely be made again. I finished my bowl and approached the final test… how full was I? Much to my surprise, I did not require a second bowl after all, as the soup was quite filling. Satisfied with my efforts I packaged up the remaining soup and continued on with my day, thinking this exercise in flavour discovery complete. What I had not realized in that moment was that I was missing one of the most important ingredients of all…

Time! No, not thyme, but time itself – the inexorable march forward that all linear corporeal beings are slave to – always plays an important role in food preparation and doubly so when it comes to a meal like soup. I had not considered this when I made and then immediately consumed the soup. I was fortunate that I did not fall victim to my own hubris in this regard, as later that evening I returned once more to the soup pot, this time to retrieve a sampling for both the wife and myself. This time, things were different. This time, flavour magic had occurred!

Giving the soup a few hours to set and let all the ingredients properly mingle and absorb into each other I found the flavour noticeably elevated. Where before I had a soup now I had a symphony of flavours all working to form a glorious melody to delight the taste and smell senses, yet it was also hearty and satisfying. It was at this point that I thought to myself, “This is a very good soup.”

Like my spoon scraping the bottom of the empty bowl, all good things must come to an end, and so too much this review end. Overall I found this a fun exercise in cooking with a delicious result I would definitely make again in the future. I would be interested in trying the substitution with Garam Masala, adding a touch more garlic and coconut milk, and a dollop of sour creme or creme fraiche would really finish off the flavour and presentation of this delightful recipe.

Recipe: 4 out of 5 Stars
Soup: 4.5 out of 5 Spoons

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