Addictive and comforting, this lentil soup is rich and creamy, yet still manages to be light and delicate, if that makes any sense at all. It also uses puy lentils. They become tender in a relatively short amount of time but don’t lose their shape, unlike most other lentil varieties.
Make this soup for a crowd and I guarantee you everyone will be scratching their heads, wondering what is in it that makes it taste so special. Also, as is the case with practically all soups, this one tastes even better on day two or three.
The use of ghee and gently frying the spices really intensifies their flavour while adding rich, buttery goodness.
As shown in the pictures, you can vary the amount of stock and coconut milk added and have this dish as a dahl served with paratha or as a soup. I made a big batch and added more stock and coconut milk to one half. Best of both worlds!
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 500ml-1.5 L (6 cups) chicken (or vegetable) broth
- 1 and 1/2 cups Lentilles de Puy (French green lentils), rinsed and picked over
- 2 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- pinch of ground nutmeg
- fresh black pepper
- 1/2 cup-1 cup full-fat canned coconut milk
- Heat the unsalted butter in a large soup pot. Add the diced onion and garlic, and saute over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are very soft and translucent. They will reduce in volume significantly.
- Add the fresh thyme and turmeric, and continue to saute for an additional 7-8 minutes, until the mixture is very soft and fragrant.
- Add the stock and the lentils and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender (yet still hold their shape).
- In a small saucepan, heat the ghee (or clarified butter or unsalted butter) over low heat. Add the spices and fresh black pepper, and saute, stirring constantly for 2 minutes or so, until the butter is fragrant. Watch the pan carefully, as it can easily go from fragrant to burned quite quickly.
- Add the butter-spice mixture to the soil. Pour in the coconut milk, and heat soup over medium heat for 15 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.