Curried Red Lentil Apple Spinach Soup
This is a lovely comfort food meal that comes together in less than 45 minutes. A big pot makes a satisfying weeknight dinner, plus leftovers for a couple of days. It also freezes well. The curry flavor isn’t overwhelming or too spicy, so even the kids might like it.
Serve with smashed cauliflower (with salt, pepper and olive oil, and maybe a little cumin), brown rice, quinoa, or just straight up as soup. Chickpea wraps are also perfect for tearing off pieces to sop up broth.
The Turkish red lentils cook very quickly and sort of dissolve into a lovely thickness. Think dahl, if you know your Indian curries and soups.
When you chop the raw, washed spinach, aim for pretty small pieces. Imagine eating the soup... and getting big whole leaves that are hard to contain on a spoon and slurp down. That can be your guide. ;)
You can pack a LOT of spinach into this soup. I have added up to 10 cups of raw chopped spinach without it overwhelming the dish. (As you know, spinach wilts down to far, far less than the fresh leaves.) The spinach here is added at the very end and only just melted into the soup, so as to preserve the beautiful green color and the nutrients.
As for the apple, it is optional, but lends a nice, mild sweetness to this dish (though no distinct apple flavor). I like to use a mild red apple which will pretty much dissolve into the soup at it cooks. But you can go green for a bit more bite.
I rarely use a whole can of coconut milk in any given recipe. So, when I first open the container, I use what I need and store the rest in a sealed jar in a fridge. Be sure to use a wide-mouthed jar. (When coconut milk gets cold, it gets solid, and you’ll have to liquify it to get it out of any container with a thin neck or small mouth.) Coconut milk lasts in the fridge for a very long time, so it will be waiting the next time you need to scoop out some more.
See the end of the recipe (below) for topping suggestions. Also, feel free to make this soup ahead of time and reheat to serve. Letting the flavors mingle for a while only makes it tastier.
Recipe for Curried Red Lentil Apple Spinach Soup
Makes one large pot
1 onion- finely diced
3 cloves garlic- thinly sliced or minced
2 tablespoons golden curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh ginger- minced (or 1 1/2 teaspoons dry powder)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, leave out for mild)
1 pinch 5 spice or cinnamon
3 tablespoons olive oil (or coconut oil, or butter)
3 cups dried Turkish red lentils- rinsed well
1 cube good, tasty bouillon (or omit)
8 cups water
1 small apple- diced (I used red gala)
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
5 or more cups fresh chopped spinach leaves (up to 10 cups)
Juice of half a lemon
Rinse the red lentils well. I do this using a fine mesh strainer in the sink.
Place the onion, garlic, and spices in a deep soup pot with the olive oil. Heat to medium and sautée a minute or two until well combined and fragrant.
Add the lentils and stir to combine.
Add the bouillon cube (if using) and 8 cups water.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a high simmer. Add the apple here.
Simmer for approximately 25 minutes until the lentils and apple are completely tender.
Stir in the coconut milk. Add the fresh chopped spinach and let it wilt into the soup. Do this in batches if needed. Let cook just until all of the leaves are soft.
Turn off the heat and add the juice of half a lemon.
Test here and add salt, a little olive oil, or more lemon juice to taste. (If you like, you could also add a handful or two of raisins here.)
Cover and let rest for as long as needed. Good hot, at room temperature, or even cold for leftovers.
Serve as is or with finely sliced almonds, fresh cilantro, lemon wedges, and/or greek yogurt.
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