Red lentil curry coconut soup

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Thursday I drove through an absolute spectacle of autumn colours in the Palatinate region (Germany) and the northern Alsace: rows upon rows of yellow-orange tinted vines rivalled by copper-coloured or flaming red trees and shrubs, interspersed with flecks of bright yellow and little specks of green. The sun was shining and the sky was mostly blue, what a marvellous day – and hopefully an auspicious one, too. Imagine all these autumnal colours mirrored in this equally warming & exciting soup. It is hearty, not too mushy but with a bite, creamy coconut and bursting with warming ginger & curry with the occasional raisin-sweetness. A sprinkle of fresh spring onion for a little zing and coriander, invigorator extraordinaire complete this bright & beautiful soup which lights up even the dreariest of murky autumn & winter days. Continue reading

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quick tom yum soup

quick tom yum soup by the james kitchen
quick tom yum soup, a photo by the james kitchen on Flickr.

Last week at a party we were talking about this quick tom yum soup and I am fulfilling my promise to write about it (Hi Francisca and Sabrina!). I do not claim this to be the original recipe of the hot & sour soup from Laos and Thailand but we use the readily available tom yum paste to make a super fast & furiously invigorating dinner when we are in desperate need for some fast, tasty and healthy sustenance and really can not be bothered to cook much (can’t eat pizza everyday).

The fragrant, lemony sour and fresh but spicy tasting paste is made from Kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce, chili peppers & oil comes in a jar and is a super stand-by in the fridge. All other ingredients might be on hand at home already, stocked in the freezer or quickly picked up, then chopped and briefly cooked in the spicy & sour broth within a few minutes, it could be even varied according to preference: vegetarian for one, mussels for another one, chicken for the next. Just make the base and let everyone add what they want.

So treat this recipe more like a blueprint and use what you have got or fancy – just pick and mix: edamame beans, green beans, peas, bok choi, choy sum, napa cabbage (Chinakohl), savoy cabbage (Wirsing), bean sprouts, sweet corn, carrots, mangetouts / snap or snow peas (Kaiserschoten), champignons (button mushrooms), dried shiitake, rice noodles, soba noodles, instant noodles, rice, brown rice, filled noodles, tortellini, vegetable dumplings, cooked chicken, prawns, fish, mussels, clams, scallops, calamari, tofu…. As I said: there are endless possibilities.

Quick tom yum soup
Ingredients for one, multiply & vary according to your stocks

½ l (2 cups) water
1 teaspoon organic vegetable stock powder or ¼ little cube
3 teaspoons Tom Yum paste
about 30-40g brown rice noodles or any other noodles, rice, dumplings
cooked chicken or prawns or vegetable dumplings (fresh or frozen)
10 mangetouts, snow or snap peas (Kaiserschoten), cut into stamp sized pieces
2 brown champignons (button mushrooms), sliced
4 stems of choy sum or bok choi, rougly choppped
2 spring onions, chopped
a few coriander leaves

Gather, wash, chop & prep or precook your ingredients.

Pour cooking water into a small saucepan, add stock powder and tom yum paste, the prepared vegetables & noodles and other ingredients like cooked chicken or mussels or what you might want to add. Cook for a few minutes, mainly to heat everything through and the vegetable still keep a little crunch. Sprinkle with coriander leaves and eat.

lentil, leaf & labneh lunch salad

This is my new favourite lunch salad: red and bitter Italian salad leaves like dark red radicchio and treviso, purple radish sprouts and pinks radishes, leftover red lentil tikka masala and the whole dish is finally crowned with some of the labneh you might have made the week before. This cool and creamy yoghurt cheese provides a nice balance to the quite spicy lentil dish and frankly, the colour combinations are amazing. Why is this a superfood salad? Red salad leaves are high in phytonutrients (Splendid table podcast: Wild food), red, orange & yellow foods come with their own backpack of extra benefits, just as pulses are good to add to anyone’s diet.Most of my lunch salads contain some kind of seed, grain or pulse. I absolutely adore the texture and taste that is added hereby to any salad and makes me feel even more virtuous, healthy and smug. You can prepare red or puy lentils, chickpeas, couscous, pumpkin seeds, wild rice or the nutty tasting Grünkern (half ripe & kilned spelt, a speciality of Baden, southern Germany) on the weekend or cook some more for dinner and stow away the rest in the fridge for lunch.To actually find red lentil tikka masala leftovers in your fridge, I took the liberty of adding the recipe below. It is a version of something one might eat on a 5:2 day. As a full dinner, we add steamed brokkoli, snow peas or some baby spinach. Perfect with or without rice, naan, roti.

Orange-red superfood salad with labneh & the night before’s lentil tikka masala
Lunch for one

Radicchio or treviso salad leaves
radish sprouts
radishes, sliced
¼ red onion, chopped
about 3 tablespoons leftover lentil tikka masala
1 ball of labneh or a small round of goats cheese
dijon mustard & nut oil vinaigrette

Make a vinaigrette out of 1 teaspoon coarse Dijon and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, add salt & pepper, 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, 6 tablespoons of nut (hazelnut/walnut) oil. You can keep the rest for the next days in the fridge.

Arrange salad ingredients on your plate, spoon the leftover tikka over the top and crown with a ball of labneh or goats cheese. Drizzle vinaigrette over the salad.

Quick red lentil tikka masala
makes about 2 portions, 4 if you add the extra vegetables
2 teaspoons sunflower or groundnut oil
2 red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
3 carrots, finely chopped chopped
2 tablespoons masala paste (bought or homemade)
1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g)
250ml (1 cup) vegetable stock
200g (1 cup or 7 oz) red lentils, washed
3 carrots, cut in discs
1 red paprika, finely chopped

Fry the onions and pepper in the oil for about 4 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and carrot and cook for another minute. Spoon in the masala paste and fry until fragrant, then add the tomatoes and stock and bring to the boil. Add the red lentils and cook for about 10 minutes testing regularly – there should be still a little bite in them.

Masala paste

2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons chilli flakes
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted & ground
1 teaspoon coriander seed, toasted & ground
3 cm ginger, finely chopped or grated
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
3 tablespoons tomato puree
salt & pepper
one handful of fresh coriander

Blend all ingredients in a food processor to a fragrant & spicy paste. Keep the rest in a jar in the fridge for further use, ours was fine for about 1 or 2 weeks.