Today it is bright and sunny. A real gift in late November here on Vancouver Island. But cloudless days mean cold days, and that means soup for lunch.
I surprise myself by how often I write about food and cooking in my Fortune Bay books! It seems when I want to show a connection between characters or a sense of stability, I often include comfort food in the scene.
I don’t consider myself a foody, but we have always enjoyed big family meals, and all of our family gatherings seem to happen over a meal.
Last winter my sister came out from Ontario for a visit here on the Island, and together we went to visit our brother on Salt Spring Island, a short ferry ride away. Because our elderly mother lives near me, we usually visit here, so it was nice on that sunny January, pre-Covid day, to go to his house in the forest for lunch. His wife Susheela served a hearty soup that was a revelation to me. Although I often make soup, it’s usually chicken-noodle, and now that my husband and I are on a strict no-wheat diet, the soups were looking a little thin.
The soup Susheela served that day was wonderful. Thick and creamy with aromatic eastern spices. I phoned her the next day to get the recipe and was happy to learn it was perfect for my husband’s Parkinson’s-fighting diet. Since she gave me the recipe over the phone, it may have changed a bit in the sharing, but I’ve always been a what’s-in-the-fridge kind of cook anyway, and so is she.
I called it Coconut Lentil Soup. Now, don’t let the coconut part scare you. It’s the secret ingredient! It refers to the canned coconut milk you stir in at the end to thicken the soup and make it deliciously creamy.
Sauté, in lots of ghee (Susheela) or olive oil (me) –
1/2 a large onion – chopped to dice
2 cloves of garlic, diced
2 tbsp curry powder – or to taste. (Our new curry powder is really hot! so I’ve since reduced the amount.)
1 tsp ground cumin
Add 4 cups chopped vegetables – Winter vegetables like carrots, turnip, cauliflower, celery, broccoli, kale, potato or sweet potato work well. Whatever you have in your fridge.
Add broth (home made is best of course. I save chicken bones and veggie bits in bags in the freezer and cook them up every few weeks. Makes the kitchen smell devine!)
Then add the lentils. Red or brown. Canned would be fine.
I like it a little chunky so when the vegetables are soft I put about 1/3 of it in the blender, or use my immersion blender until the soup is the thickness and smoothness I like. Then add
½ a large can, (or one small can) of high fat coconut milk to add the final creaminess.
Season with Salt and pepper.
A hearty soup, made from scratch, it warms you from the inside out. I think I’ll make some today.
Do you make soup from scratch? It’s not as hard as you may think. What’s your favourite?
Canadian Thanksgiving was in October, but I want to wish all our American friends a happy holiday. We used to be 14 for Thanksgiving, always at our house, but now our numbers have dwindled and this year we were five. Probably a good thing in these days of Covid lockdowns.
And next month will be Christmas! Oh my!
To get a jump on your Christmas reading get Starlight and Tinsel, a Fortune Bay Christmas novella, on sale on Amazon from now until Christmas for 99¢.
Stay home, keep your gatherings small and above all, stay safe.
Have a happy Thanksgiving.