Red Lentil Coconut Curry

by Sara Sullivan on May 2nd, 2012

Right about now, I am longing for those 75 degree "Winter" days.

This past weekend I spent four hours watching my son play lacrosse and I had to run home to grab my mittens and winter hat?!

Cold, damp days in Maine call for spicy, warming foods and this recipe is perfection!
The soup was super easy to make and all it really requires is about one hour for the ingredients to cook together. The result was a delicious and warming soup with nice coconut and curry flavors. The soup is incredibly filling due to the richness of the coconut milk and the high protein found in the lentils. I garnished the bowl with chopped fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime. I served the soup over jasmine rice which was amazing, but this would also go well with couscous, quinoa, or bread.
2 cups red split lentils
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 fresh jalapeno or serrano chili, finely chopped, including seeds
1 tablespoon fresh peeled and minced ginger 
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup tomato paste 
5 cups vegetable broth (or more depending on how thin you like your soup)
*1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
fresh cilantro and lime wedges for serving
Cooked Jasmine Rice for serving

Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a dutch oven or large soup pan and add the onions, bell pepper and jalapeno and cook for 5-7 minutes until the vegetables have softened and start to take on some color.  Add the garlic, ginger, spices and tomato paste and continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes until the mixture is toasty and fragrant.  Add the water, coconut milk, lentils and cook covered for 45 to 55 minutes, stirring once or twice and adding the lime juice at the end of cooking.  Taste and adjust with salt or more lime juice if desired.  Serve the soup alone or on top of jasmine rice, topped with a sprinkling of fresh cilantro and some extra limes on the side. 
*Coconuts are an excellent source of nutrition and have healthful meat, juice and oil. The oil is arguably the most nutritious and has many health benefits. Coconut oil is over 90% saturated fat and has antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Coconut oil also has antioxidant properties and it helps in the absorption of other minerals.

Coconut Oil is an incredible source of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which have been shown to have many health benefits.

Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs)

Most of the fats we consume are long chain fatty acids that must be broken down before they can be absorbed. Coconut oil is high in short and medium chain fatty acids, which are easily digested and sent right to the liver for energy production.

Because MCFAs are sent right to the liver for digestion no bile or pancreatic enzymes are needed for digestion, making coconut oil a healthy food even for those with diabetes or those who have gallbladder problems.

MCFAs can help increase metabolism since they are sent directly to the liver and give the body an instant source of energy. Most of the MCFAs  in coconut oil are the highly beneficial Lauric Acid.

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