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The Mass Media

Lentil Coconut Soup With Wilted Spinach

This is a recipe I adapted from New Vegetarian by Celia Brooks Brown, an absolutely amazing cookbook that breaks the stereotypes of vegetarian cooking.

Sometimes you’re just in a soup mood. I wish I could say it was the weather or the time of year, but it’s really just the fact that soup is good stuff. I’ve made this soup twice this week and I’m just not getting tired of it. Something about the flavor of cumin and coconut milk sends my brain into mild shock while my taste buds sing the praises of the gods of culinary creativity.

As a nice alternative to a hot meal on one of those scorching summer days, this soup can be served at room temperature. Don’t serve the soup straight out of the refrigerator, however, as all of the fats in the coconut milk will have solidified and your soup won’t be very appetizing. This soup is a fairly nutritious meal on its own, but to round out the recommended daily values you should have some sort of bread with it. I’ve preached on the virtues of bread in past articles, so I’ll refrain from pontificating this time. The quick note on bread is that Iggy’s and Clear Flour bakeries make the best bread in Boston.

About the Ingredients:

Always wash, pick over and drain any kind of dried beans before you cook with them, you may find small stones among the beans. Onions and garlic, good stuff, what can I say? Canned coconut milk is pretty inexpensive and much more practical than drilling into a fresh coconut every time you want to cook with coconut milk. Of course, if that’s really what you want to do, have fun. I don’t know how many cans of coconut milk one would get from a fresh coconut.

Light soy sauce refers to the color, not the salt content. If your local supermarket doesn’t carry light soy sauce, check at an Asian grocer, or use half the amount of dark soy sauce. Baby spinach is the only way to go for this soup, it’s tender and oh so good. Make sure you don’t cook the soup after adding the spinach or you will lose the texture of the wilted spinach that makes this soup so good.

I prefer Knorr vegetable bouillon, but any kind of vegetable stock will work fine in this recipe. The nice thing about Knorr in this recipe is that one bouillon cube makes the two cups of soup stock that you will need for this soup.

As always, fresh ground black pepper and kosher salt will change your life. If you are still using pre-ground pepper, sit in the corner for 10 minutes, then go out and get yourself a decent pepper mill. They can be had for under $10 if you look around and they are one of the most important cooking implements ever invented. Lentil Coconut Soup With Wilted Spinach

1 Cup Lentils2 Cups Water2 Cups Vegetable Stock1 Medium Onion, chopped4 Cloves Garlic, minced1 Can Coconut Milk2 tsp. Cumin1 Tbsp. Light Soy Sauce12 oz. Baby Spinach, washed and drainedFresh Ground Black PepperKosher Salt

Wash, pick over and drain the lentils and add them to a large pot with the 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, chopped onion, minced garlic, coconut milk, cumin, soy sauce and several twists of black pepper. Bring the soup back to a boil and simmer on low heat, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat and add kosher salt to taste. Stir in the baby spinach and let stand for several minutes. The soup can be served and eaten right away, but I like to dish it out into bowls and let it stand for 10 minutes to cool. This soup can also be eaten at room temperature on hot days.