Lentils are a huge part of my Indian lifestyle and sometimes I feel that as a community that eats different types of Lentils prepared in many ways, we somehow have the monopoly over it. Which, I must admit is not true. A lot of cultures around the world have Lentils in their cuisine and with Veganism getting strong, everyone has realized the power Lentils can bring to your daily diet.
I can personally have a Bowl of lentils on their own without any Rice or Bread because they are so filling. And this Thai lentil soup is a favourite because not only is it flavourful, but it also can be made in Bulk and frozen for days when one can't be bothered to cook.
This recipe is from Yottom Ottolenghi from his book 'Plenty More' and like all his recipes I find it easy to make and always get fantastic results. The soup uses Thai Red Curry paste and a Chilli Oil as a final garnish and I can tell you I have in the past used store-bought substitutes for both of these things and I have not been disappointed. So, don't feel that you need to make everything from scratch.
Having said that, if you have the time and energy try making the Oil at home because it is really delicious. I often make it in Bulk and add it to anything I like and it lasts for a while.
Recipe - Cooking time 60 minutes
120 g sugar snap peas
3 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1½ tbsp red curry paste (I used Turban Chopstick Brand)
1¼ cup (250 g) red lentils
2 stalks lemongrass, lightly crushed
6 - 7 Kafir Lime leaves
3 cups (700 ml) water, vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup (250 ml) coconut milk (plus extra for garnish, optional)
2-3 tbsp lime juice
2½ tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp salt, or to taste
Coriander, coarsely chopped, for garnish (optional)
chili oil for garnish
4 lime wedges, for serving (optional)
In a small pot of boiling, salted water, blanch snap peas for 30-40 seconds. Drain and rinse under cold water. Slice into thin strips on the diagonal. Set aside.
Wash the lentils in fresh water, drain and set aside.
In a large pot, heat oil on medium. Add onions and saute' for 6-7 minutes to soften and develop sweetness. Add the red curry paste and saute for 1 minute. Add the lemongrass, lime leaves, and washed lentils. Stir to coat everything well.
Add water or stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a bare simmer and cover the pot. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring soup once or twice. Lentils should be completely soft (soup may look a little thick at this point).
Remove lemongrass and lime leaves. Blend soup in a blender until completely smooth. Put soup back into pot. Add the coconut milk, lime juice, soy sauce and salt. Bring back to a boil for 1 minute and remove from heat. Taste and adjust soy sauce, salt or lime juice, if needed.
Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with sugar snap peas, cilantro, drizzles of coconut milk and/or chili oil. Serve with extra lime wedges on the side.