Coconut Red Lentil Soup from 101 Cookbooks

I have stalked Heidi’s blog, 101cookbooks, since the day I found out blogs existed. And I’m talking stalked to the point where I convinced her to come eat lunch with me at Google (and did not take a photo…biggest regret of my life). She has amazing vegetarian recipes and photos, plus she’s the nicest person ever. And yet somehow it took me gosh knows how many hears to actually make one of her recipes. Well, now I have a newfound obsession.

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The first recipe I tried was the coconut red lentil soup – and it was so good I made it two weekends in a row. It is the perfect warm soup for this time of year when it starts to get chilly. The best part is that it gets better the second (/third) night, so I made a big pot on Sunday for a Monday night dinner party, thus solving my ongoing dilemma/nightmare of what to cook for a weeknight dinner party that starts at 7pm, when I get home from work at 6pm. Answer: this soup. (Or if you really want to avoid stress, try NOT inviting 6 people over on a Monday night, but that’s another story). Also – one of the guests is vegetarian so I could not do my usual roasted chicken/Fred’s steak party. Even though I rarely cook meat at home, I realized I always serve meat when we’re having people over because I have no great alternative. So this was a good excuse to find a vegetarian meal that can be cooked ahead of time for a group.

I served the soup over brown rice with salad on the side, plus a little bread and cheese plate to start. I would say it’s better for a non-dinner party night since not everyone loves lentil curries as much as me, but hey, I was in a bind!

Notes on this recipe:

1. I skipped the golden raisons. Whole Foods did not have them, and the farmers market only had jumbo-sized golden raisons which seemed like a bigger raison commitment than I was willing to make. Plus the idea of serving soup with raisons to company was adding to my nightmares. And in conclusion, the soup was just fine without them.

2. I also did not have enough tomato paste and probably only added half the amount which was also fine.

3. I used Whole Foods brand coconut milk.  Normally I hate using anything in a can but I couldn’t think of an alternative, and the coconut milk added a great flavor and creamy texture. Will work on avoiding the can next time.

4. I added lots of carrots, probably double or triple the recipe. I love carrots.

5.. Wow, too many notes but, one last thing – I could not find the split yellow peas so I found something similar looking which happened to be split garbanzo beans at Whole Foods, and it was perfect. Moral of the story – an all out hunt across San Francisco for yellow split peas, which is what I would normally do, was not necessary and probably saved this soup/my life.

Okay, that’s all for now. Enjoy this yummy soup!

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