(COCONUT) DAAL WITH SUPER GREENS
This frigid weather in NYC combined with a lingering cold has me thinking about (and making!) my favorite soups and stews. As soon as the weather turns, I make a batch of soup each week to fill in for lunch or dinner where necessary. It's one pot cooking at its best; soup tastes better as it sits, is a great way to pack a lot of nutrients into a bowl, AND is, quite frankly, the easiest way to use up random vegetables and ingredients you have lying around.
This is a twist on my mom's lentils, daal, which are spiced, nuanced and creamy. Daal was a staple in our household, and when I go home to visit, there is always some in the fridge to remind me of my childhood. In this soup, I make the lentils a bit more dilute and add in any greens I have lying around - kale, baby spinach, chard, a super greens blend - to up the cold-fighting vitamins. I sometimes add in a bit of coconut milk for silkiness, and if I need a bit more bulk, I throw in some cooked rice, bulghur or quinoa.
What I love is that this is a really satisfying soup, but it also couldn't be easier to make. The lentils simply need to boil with a bit of turmeric for 20 to 25 minutes. Sauté the spices, aromatics and greens on the side in one pan, toss in and let simmer another 5 minutes. That's it. Enjoy!
Serves 4 to 6
1 cup split lentils (I prefer a combination of red and yellow), picked through and rinsed thoroughly
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
2-3 tablespoons ghee or canola oil
1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 shallot, minced
1 or two small green chilies, seeded and minced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon ginger, minced
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped
1 bunch kale, baby spinach, chard or 2 handfuls of a super greens blend, washed
13.5 ounces fresh homemade, raw or canned light coconut milk (optional)
salt, black pepper, and lemon juice to taste
1 small handful of cilantro, finely chopped
In a large pot or dutch oven, add the lentils, turmeric and 4 cups of water. Bring up to a boil, lower to a simmer and simmer partially covered for 25 to 30 minutes until lentils are soft and break apart easily. Add in another 1/2 cup of water if too much has evaporated and the lentils look thick.
Heat a medium-sized pan over medium high heat. Add the ghee or oil and the mustard and cumin seeds. When they start to sputter and pop, lower the heat to medium low and add the shallot, chili, garlic, ginger and ground spices. Cook until the shallots are translucent and the spices smell toasted. Add the tomato and a bit of water so the spices don't burn. When the tomato starts to break down, add in the greens and let wilt slightly.
Throw the vegetable mixture into the lentils. If using, add in the coconut milk here as well. Simmer for another 5 minutes for the flavors to combine, and then season generously with salt and pepper. The lentils can take a decent amount of salt for the flavor to really pop, and I like to alternate with squeezes of lemon juice to get the right acid / salt balance. Finish with the chopped cilantro.