My friend Missy is adorably Brooklyn, despite hailing from Flint and living in Mexico. It was she who first referred me to 101 Cookbooks and its ingenious author, Heidi Swanson. Both Missy and Heidi cook and eat the way I would in an ideal world where I knit my own sweaters and painted in oil on Sunday afternoons. I suppose it’s all a work in progress, and I am making small steps toward a more lovely life all the time. Yesterday I went to Whole Foods to buy such pleasing ingredients as lentils and split peas. I also bought a bottle of Champagne, but that was just for me, home alone on a frosty night. This morning it is dreary, and the weatherman has forecasted “a wintry mix”, so it is a most opportune time to make a big pot of aromatic soup. This dish is not like anything I have done before, and I love it. Our house smells wonderfully of curry and other mysteries of the East.
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1 cup yellow split peas
- 8 cups water
- 1 carrot, diced into bits
- 4 green onions, sliced thinly
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup tomato paste
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 1 can coconut milk ( I used reduced fat)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ( I omitted) cilantro (blech!)
First I measured and rinsed the peas and lentils, under the tap, until the water ran clean. Into a big soup pot they went, covered with all the water. I brought the pot to boil, turned down the heat to simmer, added a carrot and half the ginger, put a lid on it and let it cook for thirty minutes, until the peas softten. In a small skillet I toasted the curry, which I have never done before, so I kept sifting and shifting and shaking it around, and when it was scented and warm, I removed it from the heat and set it aside. In a small saucepan I melted the butter, then added the scallions, other ginger and raisins, stirring vigilantly for two minutes. Then I incorporated the tomato paste and with a spatula stirred the mixture into the soup pot; then I poured in coconut milk and sprinkled salt. I let it cook for an hour. It was the most beautiful color, and an almost stewish consistency, when I ladled myself a bowl. It is magic soup, with elements of sweet, salty and tart. The raisins somehow both plump and disappear; the lentils also are invisible. I might add a handful of spinach when I warm a little more for supper. You are supposed to garnish with more green onions and cilantro. But I forgot these steps, because I am, as yet, imperfect.