Spiced Coconut Lentil Soup

This isn't one of those quick soups you throw together in a matter of minutes. On top of the prep work it requires forty minutes simmering on the stove to achieve the perfect consistency. That forty minutes can feel like a lifetime when you've just had a hardcore yoga session and need food. Pronto. You might have to fill the gap with some cucumber crudites and hummus but the wait will be worth it. Would I lie? Not about food, that's for sure! Yeah, yeah, I love soup, I think we've established that so I'll tell you about something else I love - coconut milk. What's not to love is what I say and yet I know some have an aversion to anything coconutty, which baffles me but also makes me kinda sad. A life without coconut is pretty bleak if you ask me.

Coconuts and Avocados. Two of natures greatest gifts. Who on earth cares about cream, butter and cheese when you have these luscious foods at your disposal.

Technically a fruit, the coconut has become a major feature in my diet and my cooking. I'm a total coconut oil convert, use desiccated coconut in a wide variety of desserts and breakfasts and coconut milk is now a steadfast staple in my kitchen. I've replaced soy milk for coconut milk - not the canned coconut milk I hasten to add, the pourable kind.

To clarify, there are two kinds of coconut milk on the market; one is used mainly for cooking (that's the canned stuff) and the other is for drinking or pouring into tea, coffee or onto cereal. My preferred brand is Kara coconut milk and it is widely available and very reasonably priced. That's my sales pitch. Onto the cooking variety.

Canned coconut milk is exceptionally creamy, which makes it ideal for making ice-creams, yoghurt, whipped cream and also lends a richness to any dish in which it is used. In my eyes coconut milk can do no wrong. It's the food that keeps on giving and I'm happy to take, take, take.

The coconut flavour in this soup is not in any way overpowering and I would suggest that even if you're not a coconut fan you may still like it. Although 'spiced' this dish is not particularly spicy - even with the added chilli and paprika. The spice is very mild and subtle but absolutely essential in aiding the soup to be bursting with the incredible flavour it possesses. Personally, I think it would make for an excellent starter to a dinner party meal - a small bowlful should be enough to wet the appetite without over facing people with a gargantuan appetizer before the main. This is how I like to do things anyway.

I first discovered this recipe in a 'Vegan' recipe book (it's literally called 'Vegan') and, of course, I've tweaked it to my own tastes but then again I do that with pretty much every recipe I've ever followed ('followed' in the loosest sense of the word).

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to make myself a very special raw cheesecake. All will be revealed tomorrow - or the day after, depends how I'm feeling.

Ciao, ciao.


1/2 large red onion (I used a quarter of a colossal one)

1/2 red chilli

thumbsize piece of peeled ginger

1 clove garlic

1 cup red lentils

1 400g can coconut milk

3 cups filtered water

1 scant tsp vegan vegetable bouillion

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cumin

pink Himalayan salt

black pepper

juice of 1 lime

1 heaped tsp coconut oil

Finely chop the red onion - I actually like to mince mine with a knife.

Heat the coconut oil in a heavy based saucepan. Add the onion, season, cover and allow to soften for several minutes.

Meanwhile, mince the chilli, garlic and ginger together. Add to pan, cover and cook for a few more minutes until the flavours begin to infuse - your kitchen should be full of wonderful aromas by now.

Rinse and sort the red lentils and add to pan along with the ground coriander, paprika and cumin. Mix thoroughly and then pour in the coconut milk and water. Sprinkle in the vegetable bouillion and lightly season with some pink Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Cover, bring to the boil and then lower to a gentle simmer for forty minutes, ensuring to stir frequently.

Juice the lime and set aside.

When the lentils have softened and almost disintegrated to form a thick, creamy soup, take off the heat, pour in the lime juice, taste for seasoning and serve with a few fresh coriander leaves for garnish.