Curried Sweet Potato, Lentil & Coconut Soup with Coriander Pesto

I’ve been making a version of this soup for a long time; its original inspiration was a sweet potato & pepper dal, the recipe for which seems to have disappeared from the internet. Anyhow, this ‘souped up’ (I hate myself) version is delightfully warming, accidentally vegan, and totally hits the spot for this time of year. Apologies in advance for butchering any established food norms of Indian other cuisines – I’m not claiming any authenticity here, but this does taste extremely good.

This is a great one for those who like to eat seasonally, as I do, partly unintentionally because things are cheaper when they’re in season – and hallelujah, it’s root vegetable season! Here in Switzerland, usually weirdly expensive sweet potatoes have come down to a price that’s only about 50% higher than it would be in the UK, which is reason to celebrate!

I topped my soup with a coriander & cashew pesto – the soup is more than good enough without it, but the colours go rather nicely and it’s a nice flavour combination too. Coriander is a divisive herb, but easily one of my favourites – I’m pleased to say that I lack the gene that makes it taste like soap.

There’s been a bigger delay than I’d have liked in posting this because unfortunately last week my laptop went kaput. I’m now typing on my phone (urgh) so bear with me if there are any formatting errors (it’s a good excuse given that there usually are anyways).

Makes ca. 8 portions

Curried Sweet Potato, Lentil & Coconut Soup

Ingredients

100g shallots (pre-cut weight – this was two medium ones for me)

1 tbsp coconut oil (or other neutral vegetable oil)

2 large cloves garlic

1 tbsp ginger

1/2 cup (100g) red lentils

300g carrots (about 3 medium)

750g sweet potato (pre-peeled weight; this was one and a half enormous ones for me)

400ml can coconut milk

1/2 tbsp soy sauce

1 litre stock

Salt & Chilli flakes, to taste

Spices

1 tbsp curry powder

1 tbsp tumeric powder

1/2 tbsp garam masala

1/2 tbsp cumin powder

1/2 tbsp coriander powder

Method

Advance Preparation

As with my last recipe, I thought it may be helpful to lay out some prep steps before hitting the ground running. I personally like to get myself completely flustered and do everything at once, but this may not be to everyones taste…

1- Roughly dice shallots – the great thing about blended soups is that you don’t have to be quite so exacting with your cutting methods, because it will all end up blended anyways!

2- Mince garlic and ginger and set aside (they’ll be added to the pot simultaneously, so no need to separate them)

3- Peel and cut sweet potatoes and carrots, set aside (again, they’ll be added together).

4- Measure out lentil quantity, set aside.

5- Prepare 1 litre of stock.

Cooking

1- Turn the stove on to low heat, and in a large pot (any kind of large pot will do, as long as it can fit the mammoth volume of soup you’re about to produce) melt coconut oil and add shallots, frying until soft and transparent (about 4 minutes).

2- Add garlic-ginger mix and stir into shallots until lightly fried, about 1 minute.

3- Add the spices and stir into shallot-garlic-ginger mix to toast for about 1 further minute.

4- Pour in lentils, sweet potato and carrots, and stir to mix flavours together for about 1 minute.

5- Add coconut milk, soy sauce and stock, mix, and turn up the heat until bubbling.

6- Once the mix is simmering, turn down the heat to medium-low, and leave to simmer, checking & stirring occasionally.

7- Check the texture of your vegetables & lentils – are they soft enough for blending? If so, remove from heat and either blend immediately with a hand blender (one of a few appliances I don’t actually have) or leave to cool for a bit before blending in a traditional blender.

Add water / stock as necessary at this stage – it can come out a bit thick, but this is actually quite good for storage purposes (less Tupperware necessary) and you can always add water before consumption!

Coriander Pesto

This can be made without a blender if you have good fine chopping abilities, but my mini chopper is such an asset here!

Ingredients

30g coriander

Small clove garlic

50ml olive oil

25ml lemon juice

20g cashews, roasted

1/4 tsp sea salt

Method

1- Remove rough stalks & wash the coriander, skin the garlic, toast the cashews, and do any other prep work necessary.

2- Throw the ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until well-blended.

3- Swirl over soup to serve. I reserved some extra toasted cashews to top the soup, and had a glut of pomegranate seeds so chucked them on too (pretty colours!).

Suggestions & Substitutions

As above in the feature photo is probably the most aesthetically pleasing way of serving this soup, but I like to stir in some spinach for that extra green hit. Tom liked to keep the soup thick and use it as a healthy curry sauce equivalent with chicken and rice – not its original intended use, but actually quite a good idea, as it’ll save you a lot of calories without sacrificing flavour.

Should you end up with too much pesto for your soup, it is lovely with a roasted vegetable and halloumi salad, or even as a substitute for chimichurri with steak (not for me, obviously).

In cooking, coconut oil can be replaced with any neutral flavoured oil and shallots can be replaced with red or white onion (of which I have an irrational fear).

Leftover Rating 3/3 this keeps extremely well, and is an excellent divided into portions and frozen for a quick and healthy lunch option.

And that’s it!

I’m currently working on a post about the differences I’ve observed thus far between my Swiss master’s degree and my UK undergraduate one, but unfortunately the volume of work for said master’s keeps getting in the way of me actually publishing it! In any case, you can look forward to reading that soon. In the meantime, keep warm, eat soup, and let me know if you have any feedback.

-Alice

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