Monday, November 22, 2010

Snow Day Soup!

I woke up to big, beautiful, sexy snowflakes this morning. We don't get those too often in Seattle. I should have just put on some mellow music and enjoyed the view out my window but I made the mistake of turning on the television to a barrage of newscasts interrupting regular programming - newscasts repeating the terms "treacherous" and "Thanksgiving Week Blizzard 2010" and images of abandoned cars because we had 2" of snow on the highways.

I've gotta say, this amuses a Wisconsin girl to no end. Oh Seattle, you don't know "treacherous" weather until you're a 16 year old, newbie driver driving in several feet of blinding, blowing snow with the temps far below zero...and it's MAY! Those, you Washington weather wimps, are treacherous weather conditions.

So in order to stay off the road and away from the crazies who think they know how to drive in snow but really don't, I put on my red and white polka dotted puddle jumpers (which occasionally double as snow boots) and walked to the store for "provisions". I fired up the bread machine and made a loaf of my tried and true gluten-free bread and pulled out the stockpot to make some soup. It's a tasty, vegetarian, dairy-free, gluten-free, little diddy that was easy and fast! Enjoy!

Zingy Red Lentil and Coconut Milk Snow Day Soup
4 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
5 Roma tomatoes
1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
3 cups veggie broth
3/4 cup light coconut milk
Juice of one large lime
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
2"-3" piece of cinnamon stick
6 cardamom pods
Salt and pepper to taste
Enough EVOO or butter to brown the shallots and garlic
A few tablespoons of medium flaked coconut (Not the sugar coated yuckiness you find in baking isle but unadulterated, plain, flaked coconut)

In a small saute pan, brown the shallots in butter or EVOO (your choice) until golden and caramelized. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Add the chopped garlic and cook until soft and ever so slightly golden. Don't overcook the garlic or it will taste bitter. Add a few tablespoons of the veggie broth to deglaze the pan, scraping up all the tasty brown bits and transfer the browned bits, garlic and caramelized shallots to a stockpot. Don't cook the shallots in the stockpot you'll make the soup in as doing so won't result in nicely browned and caramelized shallots. In such a deep pot, you'll actually be steaming the shallots and they won't truly brown.

Add the the remaining broth, along with the chopped tomatoes, lime juice, lentils and spices. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat, cover and allow the soup to simmer for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are soft.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees, as you'll be toasting the coconut to sprinkle on top of the soup upon serving.

Remove the cardamom pods and cinnamon stick from the soup and discard. Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and puree until it's almost completely smooth. An immersion blender used right in the stockpot works well (and means less dishes to wash!) but be forewarned that the turmeric will stain your immersion blender, making it a lovely shade of bright yellowish-green. It may stain a clear, plastic food processor bowl, too. If this bugs you, the glass pitcher of a blender would be your best best choice to not end up with a turmeric-stained appliance.

Stir in the coconut milk, return the mixture to the pot if you pureed it in a blender or food processor and turn the burner to very low, just high enough to heat the soup through again. As the soup warms, sprinkle the coconut onto a baking sheet and spread evenly. Toast the coconut until brown, about 3-4 minutes.

Ladle the soup into bowls, top with the toasted coconut and dig in!

Afterthoughts: The 3/4 cup of light coconut milk is about half of a 14 ounce can. I like to heat the leftover milk with almond milk, a little cane sugar and good quality, dutch-processed, unsweetened cocoa to make rich, decadent and dairy-free hot chocolate!