Have you ever gotten flavor overload? Like if you eat too much and the next day all you want to eat is something really simple? Okay, maybe that’s just me or because I work with food every day, but yesterday I just wanted something that tasted, well, for lack of a better word, clean. I hate using the word clean when talking about food because it’s such a buzzword, but that’s truly how this Golden Coconut Lentil Soup tastes. It’s light, bright, clean, and simple. And that’s exactly what I needed yesterday.
I’ve made lentils with coconut milk several times, but this time I thinned it out to a soup to keep it light and made sure that spicy ginger took center stage. Turmeric gives this soup an incredibly vibrant color and an earthy flavor base, while rich coconut milk holds the flavors together and gives the soup body (watery soup = no bueno). I chose not to use any bouillon or broth for this soup because I wanted to keep the flavors clean and fresh, but if you want something with a little more depth you could certainly substitute some of the water for vegetable or chicken broth (I feel like chicken broth would blend better with the flavors, but vegetable broth can be used to keep it vegetarian).
I piled a few fun toppings into this soup to make it a bit more of a meal, but they’re completely optional. A simple piece of naan bread would also be great. I found some large unsweetened coconut flakes in the bulk bins at Whole Foods and toasted them up in a skillet to add color and texture. I also added a small scoop of jasmine rice to each bowl to give my mouth a little more something to chew on. Plus, lentils are rice are like peanut butter and jelly, you gotta have one with the other. :)
Golden Coconut Lentil Soup
- 1 Tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil) $0.13
- 1 yellow onion $0.32
- 2 cloves garlic $0.16
- 1 inch fresh ginger (about 1 Tbsp grated) $0.13
- ½ Tbsp ground turmeric $0.15
- Pinch red pepper flakes $0.02
- 2-3 carrots $0.33
- ½ lb. red or yellow lentils (about 1 cup) $1.35
- 4 cups water $0.00
- 13.5 oz. coconut milk $0.99
- ½ Tbsp salt (or to taste) $0.05
- ⅓ cup large, unsweetened coconut flakes $0.16
- ¼ bunch cilantro $0.10
- 2 cups cooked jasmine rice $0.38
- Add the olive oil to a large pot. Dice the onion, mince the garlic, and grate or mince the ginger (I use a small-holed cheese grater). Sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger in the olive oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the onions are soft and transparent. While the onions, garlic, and ginger are sautéing, peel and slice the carrots.
- Add the turmeric and red pepper to the pot and sauté for a minute more. Add the carrots to the pot, sauté for a minute more, then add the lentils and water. Place a lid on the pot, bring it up to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Toast the coconut flakes while the soup simmers. Add the coconut flakes to a dry skillet and place it over medium-low heat. Stir continuously as the flakes heat until they are about 50% golden brown (1-3 minutes). Remove the flakes from the hot skillet immediately to stop the toasting process.
- After 20 minutes the lentils should be soft and broken down. Stir the coconut milk into the soup. Use an immersion blender or carefully blend the warm soup in small batches until about half of the soup is puréed (or all of it if you want it completely smooth). Once blended, begin adding salt, ½ tsp at a time, until the soup is properly seasoned. I used 1.5 tsp or ½ Tbsp of salt. Also adjust the red pepper flakes, if desired.
- To serve the soup, ladle about 1.5 cups into a bowl and top with ½ cup cooked rice, some fresh cilantro leaves, and a sprinkle of toasted coconut flakes.
Step by Step Photos
Begin by dicing one yellow onion, mincing two cloves of garlic, and grating or mincing about 1 inch of fresh ginger (about 1 Tbsp). Add the onion, garlic, and ginger to a large pot with 1 Tbsp olive or coconut oil. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and transparent. Add 1/2 Tbsp turmeric and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Sauté for about one minute more.
While the onions are sautéing, peel and slice 2-3 carrots. Add them to the pot and sauté for a minute more, then add 1/2 lb. red or yellow lentils (about 1 cup).
Then add 4 cups water. Place a lid on the pot and bring it up to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 20 minutes (photo is before simmering).
While the soup is simmering, toast the coconut flakes. Place about 1/3 cup large, unsweetened coconut flakes in a dry skillet. Stir and cook over medium-low heat until they’re about 50% toasted. This happens quickly, so make sure you’re stirring constantly. Remove them from the skillet as soon as they’re done so that they don’t continue to brown.
After 20 minutes the lentils should be soft and broken down. The soup will still taste extremely bland at this point because no salt has been added.
Add one 13.5oz. can of full fat coconut milk – not the stuff that you find in the dairy cooler that is used as a dairy milk substitute. That is too thin.
Canned coconut milk is thick and usually has a layer of semi-solid fat on top. One of the reasons I was SO excited to finally get a Trader Joe’s in New Orleans is because they have super inexpensive coconut milk that is actually really good quality. Yay!
After adding the coconut milk, use an immersion blender or carefully blend batches of the soup in a regular blender until about half of the soup is puréed. This will help thicken up the soup and make it more cohesive. If using a regular blender, be VERY careful. It’s always a good idea to drape a towel over the blender when blending hot or warm liquids to shield yourself from any possible explosions. This is also the time to finally season the soup with salt. Start adding salt, 1/2 tsp at a time, until the soup tastes properly salted to you. I used 1.5 tsp, or 1/2 Tbsp of salt total.
To serve the Golden Coconut Lentil Soup, place about 1.5 cups of the soup in a bowl and add a 1/2 cup cooked rice to the center. Sprinkle fresh cilantro and the toasted coconut flakes over top. I also added a few more red pepper flakes because I like it HOT. ;)