Cold Day, Hot Soup

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Stella’s Cafe is situated in a rainy, coastal town. They have seen little of the snow and freezing temperatures the rest of the country has been dealing with, but they are in the middle of an extensive period of rain. And more is forecasted for the coming weeks. Much more. During this raw and wet time of year, one of her best sellers is good hot soup. She offers two choices every day with at least one being vegan, or at least vegetarian. She wishes she had a dollar for every customer who comes into the cafe and announces, ‘I’m vegan,’ or ‘I’m gluten free. What do you have for me?’ and she wonders what the powers that be have done to the wheat, the meat and the dairy to turn all these people off of what, to her, have always been staples of life. She, herself, does not eat a great deal of meat, but she does enjoy a small quality cut of beef or a lovely roasted chicken. As for good bread, cheese, yogurt, or cream…it would be hard to imagine life without them! ‘Everything in moderation,’ is her motto, although she admits to not having allergies or food sensitivities to deal with, if one does not count a tendency to gain a few pounds over the Holidays a form of ‘food sensitivity.’ She is sure someone would. In any case, she is here to serve her wide range of customers and serve them the quality of food that she herself enjoys. This time of year, she enjoys a good bowl of soup for lunch, with some excellent sourdough bread from the bakery down the street. Recently, she discovered a wonderful new vegan recipe which she found delicious and hopes her customers will too!

Curried Red Lentil Soup with Dried Cherries and Cilantro adapted from

Makes 9 cups, approximately

  • 4 teaspoons safflower or peanut oil
  • 6 Tablespoons finely chopped peeled ginger
  • 4 Tablespoons finely chopped garlic cloves
  • 2 Large Shallots, finely minced
  • 4 carrots, finely diced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder or mild curry paste (if you like it spicy, double the amount of powder or use hotter paste)
  • salt
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 cups red lentils, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 6 Tablespoons finely chopped cilantro stems, plus a handful of leaves for garnish

1. Heat oil in a 5 Litre pot over medium heat. Add ginger, garlic, shallot, and carrots, and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add curry powder or paste, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

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2. Add 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 cup coconut milk, 4 cups water, and the lentils, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until lentils and carrots are tender, 8-10 minutes. Pour 4 cups soup through a fine sieve into a bowl, reserving solids. Puree strained liquid with remaining soup in batches in a blender until smooth. Reheat after blending. Stir in reserved solids.

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3. Reserving some for garnish, stir cherries and cilantro stems into soup, and ladle into bowls. Swirl in remaining 1/2 cup coconut milk (with love, of course) and garnish with cherries and cilantro leaves.

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