I’m not going to sugar coat it – being sick sucks. Stuffy nose, body aches, tingling skin, and worst of all anything I put in my mouth seems flavourless and bland. When I was still living at home my wonderful parents would often make me Jook or Rice Congee to make me feel better. Unfortunately, now that I’ve moved out and their catering services are a bit too far away I’ve got to fend for myself.
When I’m stuck nursing myself back to health I’ve found that spicy ethnic food is the only thing that keeps my spirits up (and the only thing I can taste). So, in light of my recently contracted cold I decided to treat myself to some Coconut Curry Lentil Soup. It’s a little spicy, a little sweet, and has a creaminess that has soothed my persistent cough. To be honest, I even love this recipe for when I’m not coughing out a lung, and I hope you will too!
COCONUT CURRY LENTIL SOUP
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tbsp red chilli flakes (you can add more or less depending on your spice tolerance)
2 small onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
2 tbsp ketchup (or tomato paste, I just didn’t have any on hand)
2 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp red curry paste
2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
4 stalks of Gai Lan (Chinese Broccoli), rinsed with leaves and stalks separated
1 400mL can of Coconut milk
2 cups tomato sauce (I used the sauce my family jars, but pureed canned tomatoes work too)
4 cups vegetable stock (chicken stock works too!)
1.5 cups of dried lentils (I used the Six Leaf Sprouted French lentils from Costco)
Salt & Pepper to taste
My apologies for the lack of prep photos, my sick brain didn’t clue into the idea of posting this recipe until it was too late.
Heat a large sauce pan on medium-high and add the olive oil and chilli flakes. I always like to warm chilli flakes because I find it brings out more flavour/fragrance, but you do you! Once sizzling add in the chopped onions and hit them with a pinch of salt & pep and sauté for 4-5 mins or until they are almost translucent.
When the onions are translucent add in the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant (or if you’re sick like me and thinking I CANNOT SMELL, WHAT IS FRAGRANT?? sauté for another minute or so). Then add in your wonderful veggies – carrot, celery, and gai lan stalks (I finely cut these on a bias because I was feeling fancy). Stir until combined and the veggies soften, approximately 4 mins.
Then add in your curry, ketchup, and red curry paste. Stir until all the veggies are coated in spicy-yumness and continue to brown until you have bits of curry/red curry paste/ketchup stuck at the bottom of your pan. This usually takes another 5 minutes or so.
Now all those delicious spices stuck at the bottom aren’t going to go to waste – grab the canned coconut milk and pour it in, scraping the bottom to get those browned bits. Add your tomato sauce and veggie stock, stirring to combine. Once that’s all in you’re ready to add your lentils, and honestly if you don’t have lentils I can see this working with basically any other seed/grain you can think of – quinoa, dried split peas, even rice. It really just depends on the texture you want, I like lentils because of their high reheat value and they seem to soak up any flavour you toss them with.
Cover your pot and bring it to a boil for 5 minutes, making sure to stir every so often to ensure all those veggies aren’t stuck at the bottom. Turn down the heat and keep it simmering for 20 mins or until the lentils are tender. After 20 mins add in the chopped gai lan leaves – they don’t take long to cook through, just a minute or two.
If you want to be extra fancy you could serve the soup with some Naan bread, but really all you need is a spoon. Bonus tip – this freezes REALLY well, so if you make a big batch you can seal it up in a tupperware and toss it in the freezer for the next time the flu bug hits.
What kind of foods do you like to eat when you’re feeling under the weather??