Vegetarians and vegans really need to eat their legumes, such as red lentils. Preferably now just once a week, but more often than that. As a young mother, I don’t always have time to cook elaborate meals. Sadly legumes require a bit of work. Lentils, chickpeas and beans need to simmer.
I am a good eater and I get cranky if I live off take-away or ready-made meals for longer than a day. I need my vegetables and my protein, even if it is just hummus on bread or a couple of red lentils in my salad. Plus, when you are recovering from pregnancy and birth, and you are breast-feeding, eating a diet rich in protein and iron is even more relevant than for the average Jane.
My cooking time is currently quite limited. I usually make dinner around five PM, when David is having a short nap. We then reheat and serve dinner about three hours later, when my husband is home. During preparation I can be interrupted at any time. Recently, David has been awake throughout the late afternoon, so now I either carry him in a sling or put him in his little rocking chair whilst preparing dinner. It much depends on how much I need (to see) my hands. This recipe is very hands-off, so you can totally make it with a baby or after a busy day.
As a result of this, I’ve begun preparing easy recipes, that are fast, healthy and filling. I like making them from ingredients that are available in any well-stocked kitchen – or from ingredients that you can keep in your pantry for a long time and prepare on a rainy day.
I’d love to share these recipes with you! You’ll find them under the “weekday-dinner“-category.
Let’s start with a spicy and rich red lentil soup, which is a twist on my friend Patrick’s recipe. It includes lots of heat, coconut cream and a delicious blend of garlic and curcuma.You will love it!
The first time I made this for dinner, my husband came home after a long day at work. He was hungry and somewhat unhappy that none of his comfort foods were on the table. He reluctantly started eating the tiny portion I had scooped onto his plate, which he was eating merely to appease me. He finished it, and then took away my plate, on which I had just put seconds. You can make this soup out of a ridiculously small amount of ingredients, or use the optional extras, such as the piece of celery root. Also, you can stop the preparation once you add the coconut cream and eat a more rustic, chunky soup. Or use your handheld blender for a more sophisticated, finer cream of lentil. Both versions are pretty and delicious!
Coconut-Curcuma Cream of Red Lentil
1 cup red lentils, washed and drained (make sure they are either certified gluten-free or that you have sorted through them and thrown out and glutinous kernels, e.g. rye)
2 small garlic heads (or a large one)
six ripe cherry tomatoes (cut in half; optional)
500ml gluten-free vegetable broth
1 tsp ghee (or butter or a vegetable oil of your choice)
1 small piece of ginger (a third of your thumb; either whole or grated, depending on whether you want to puree it or take it out prior)
1 piece of celery root (chopped; size of a small potato; optional)
1 tbsp curcuma
½ tsp chilli flakes
200ml cream of coconut
pepper to taste
Place a small pot on the stove and heat it. Add the butter (or the ghee or vegetable oil).
When the butter is melted, add the tomatoes.
When the tomatoes start letting go of their juice, add the garlic, the chilli flakes and the curcuma. Stir until the mixture is fragrant (make sure it does not burn!) and add the red lentils and the vegetable broth. Add the ginger and the celery root. Simmer until the lentils are soft, fifteen minutes tops.
Pour the coconut cream into the red lentil soup.
Puree your red lentil soup with your handheld blender (or serve as is).
Voilà: delicious and filling Coconut-Curcuma Cream of Red Lentil!