Friday, October 5

Red Lentil Soup and Rainy Days (Rainy Minutes Anyway)

One day last week I woke up with a dull ache in my knee. I turned to Jeff and said, “It’s going to rain today.” "Susan, it hasn’t rained here in like 235 days. It's not gonna rain today,” he replied. “My knee is aching," I said. "It’s gonna rain today."

I know almost every time it's going to rain. It's not superstition; it's knee surgery. Believe me when I tell you, my knee is as accurate in predicting rain as the Doppler 5000.

Later that morning we got into the car to go the the gym, and it happened. Rain.

I excitedly flipped on the windshield wipers -- I had purchased new ones the day before Easter and hadn't used them yet. Like two little kids, we were entranced by the blades slapping away the rain in efficient strokes. It was a satisfying a moment, really. Not five minutes later we were rudely interrupted by the vibrating, whooping sound of new wipers dragging across a dry windshield.

It’s hard to fathom how a place as lush with flora and vegetation as Southern California could be so dry. Incredibly, the average rainfall in San Diegois just 7 inches -- we used to get 7 inches on any given weekend in North Carolina.

While life without rain has its distinct advantages, sometimes I just long for a rainy day. We had some Ballykissangel to watch, some magazines to catch up on, and, of course, some soup to make. Because what’s a chilly, rainy day without a good bowl of steaming hot soup? The all too brief interlude of rain didn't deter us. We savored a few episodes of Ballykissangel, made it through at least a third of our magazine pile, and enjoyed some wholesome red lentil mulligatawny with apple-celery salsa.

The recipe is adapted from an original in Cooking Light. The zesty, crunchy apple-celery salsa contrasts pleasingly with the smooth, creamy lentils. I adjusted the soup by sauteing the onions for added depth and mixing in some extra seasonings--the cinnamon in particular lends a lovely sweet, aromatic touch. Made with creamy coconut milk, this is a warming, savory soup perfect for a rainy day. Or a chilly day. Or a windy day. Or a sunny day.

Red Lentil Mulligatawny with Apple-Celery Salsa
Print this recipe here.
Makes 2 bowls or 4 cups

½ cup finely chopped Granny Smith apple
¼ cup finely chopped celery
½ Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
½ Tbsp fresh lime juice

2 tsp olive oil
¾ c chopped onion
1 ½ c water
¾ c red lentils
¾ cup light coconut milk
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp coriander
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp fresh lime juice
Salt, to taste

For salsa: Combine all ingredients; set aside.

For soup: Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; sauté until golden, about 3-5 minutes. Add lentils and water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 12-15 minutes or until lentils are tender. Pour half of the lentil mixture in a blender; let stand for 5 minutes (so the soup will cool and not cause the cover to pop off!) Pour pureed lentil mixture into a bowl, and repeat process with the remaining half of lentil mixture. Once the soup is blended, return to the pan; add coconut milk, ginger, cumin, turmeric, coriander, cayenne, and cinnamon; stir well. Cover and simmer for about 5-10 minutes or until thoroughly heated through. Remove from heat; stir in the lime juice and season with salt. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with some salsa.

Here are some other rainy day foods you might like:

Italian Pignoli Cookies and Spiced Coffee
Nan’s Italian Lentil Soup
Butternut Squash Risotto with Toasted Walnuts and Blue Cheese

And here are a few more tasty dishes featuring red lentils:
Daily Unadventures in Cooking's Red Lentil and Yam Curry
Group Recipes' Everyday Red Lentil Dal
Habeas Brulee's Pasta with Red Lentils, Ginger, and Spinach

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Stella said...

Black lentils & red lentils soups are my weekly dishes, I simply love them because they're very nutritious!
THe ingredients you use sound interesting, I'll use yours nx time!

Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy said...

Beautiful picture of the lentils :) I love lentil soup, it definitely warms your insides!

Abby said...

THIS year in N.C. we've had almost zilch rain in months - state-wide drought, voluntary water restrictions, etc. No fun. Our yard is dead! (Of course that keeps our gardening bills low!)

I have very little experience with lentils, but it looks so healthy and nutritious that I believe we'll have to try it around here soon!

Asha said...

LOL!! You are telling me! We are -12" of rain this year in NC. It literally rained for mins here on Friday after 3 mnts of 97F heat. It's really terrible, doesn't feel like Fall at all.No Fall colors either so far.
Love the Lentil soup, pretty color. We call it Masoor dal.I made a whole Lentil salad at Aroma.Salsa sounds yummy:)

Nabeela said...

Red lentil is one of my favorite dals(pulses) in Indian cuisine. They make such creamy dals/soups.
The addition of apple celery salsa is interesting!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

We haven't had much rain here in RI lately, but I would miss rainy days if I lived in a dry place. Rainy days mean soup and stews, good books to read and movies to watch, and long naps. This soup is definitely going on my list of recipes to make -- whenever the rain comes.

Katie Zeller said...

I don't often use red lentils but there's a bag in my pantry crying for a purpose.... I may have found it.
I'd be happy to send you some of our rainy days...

Bradley said...

The soup looks fantastic and I actually like the way you left the drips on the rim of the bowl.

Rebecca/CUpS said...

Y'know, I've never tried red lentils. I've made soup and bread with the green variety many times. Wonder if the flavor is different. Guess I'll have to try it out :)

PS. Acorn squash is one of my favorite comfort foods in these cooler days. I had my first one just yesterday!

Mishmash ! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mishmash ! said...

Nice to see you cooking a soup with lentils and liking it too....Am sure, you will like some of our Indian preps with lentils :) Btw, the knee and rain prediction was funny :))


Nora B. said...

Rainy days can be lovely. I used to be afraid of getting wet, but now I can happily walk in the rain if it's just a drizzle.

This soup looks so comforting and wholesome. I love the addition of the apple-celery salsa.

p/s: I mentioned you and Jeff in my recent post about pistou & pesto.

bazu said...

I have to keep this recipe on hand- even though we're enjoying an exceptionally hot Indian summer, I know the rainy days are a'comin'. I've been enjoying red lentils a lot lately!

Anh said...

The soup looks really yummy! I love red lentil soup, so I'll be trying out your recipe!

About the rain, yesterday it rained very heavily in Mel. It may be raining today again, too!

Kalyn Denny said...

Sounds very good to me. I'm a big fan of lentils, and especially like the red ones. And I love the salsa idea!

Scribbit said...

Looks delicious, as usual. Here's a question: do you have any good Indian recipes? With my parents living there now it's got me more interested in the cuisine and I'd love to try something from someone whose food I trusted.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, I'm a big fan of weather over climate. Even for the inconveniences it sometimes creates timingwise, I love a good rainstorm. Of course, when it gets to be mid-February here in Chicago, don't quote me on being a fan of weather.

This is a lovely take on lentil soup, by the way, Susan. A nice Indian flair, with the spices and coconut milk. The salsa gives it a nice crunch--I might consider reserving some of the lentils when I puree it to give it even a little more texture.

sra said...

The apple salsa with lentils is a really unusual combination - for an Indian like me, the taste of the mulligatawny is very familiar.

Kajal@aapplemint said...

this is a really nice way of serving the lentils. We usually just make Dal from these lentils which is locally called Spilt Masoor Dal.I really like the variation of the apple salsa which would really add texture to the dal. Will have to give this a try.

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of the apple and celery salsa on top! great recipe! the only thing i'm not entriely sure about is the addition of coconut milk...

Susan said...

Lentils are probably the easiest legume to work with; they cook up really fast. I've had mulligatawny with apples and celery pureed in the mix, but not as a crunchy complement. This is a nice twist to a classic recipe.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Valentina-Hope you like it!

Sarah-It was fun taking the pics!

Abby-Once you start eating them, you'll love them. They are so filling and nutritious.

Asha-I'm sorry to hear that there are no fall colors. :(

Nabeela-Mine too! And the salsa adds a nice textural crunch.

Lydia-Then I hope it comes soon!

Katiez-Glad to be of assistance! I may take you up on your offer!

Bradley-Thanks! Glad you like it!

Rebecca-Red lentils are different texturally. They're softer and cook faster than green or brown. As for the taste, it's hard to describe, but they're less earthy, if you know what I mean.

Shn-It's true. I swear. :)

Nora B-I love that feeling of misty drizzle on my face; though I wouldn't want it all the time! Thanks for the mention! :)

Bazu-My parents said it was in the 80's in RI!

Anh-Then it's soup time!

Kalyn-The salsa is delicious even on its own!

Michelle-I'll email you.

Terry B-Yeah, come Feb. I'll still be in flip-flops, so I can't complain.

Sra-I'm not saying it's traditional Indian, but it was delicious. You would know that better than I! :)

Kate-I hope you do; it really enlivens it.

Maninas-I love coconut milk, for its mild flavor and thick texture, but it's up to you. You could try regular milk or just broth.

Susan-They are easy and so versatile. I always have them on hand for a quick and healthful meal.

Sig said...

yeah, rainy days... I can't symathize with your lack of rain in south cali... you know I live in Seattle :( ... u can have our rain anytime... The soup looks perfect for a rainy day... and the knee thing is soooo funny... you should be on discovery channel, or may be America's got talent? ;)

Anonymous said...

That's some great warm soup for a rainy day. I think I've never had red lentil, but that apple-celery sounds terrific. It is also interesting how your knee can make you a human barometer :).

brisa said...

That's so cool..I have you bookmarked and come here once in a while, so I'm not a follower - per se. But I love your style of writing, your recipes (the first one I read was the broccoli/pasta one)..and I love rain too!!

I've been living in SD for the last 10 years and I miss the rain too. :))

It's been cold this weekend and I've just ordered Book of Soups: More than 100 Recipes for Perfect Soups (Culinary Institute of America), but I'll definetely keep an wye for your soups ideas.

Thank yoU!!


brisa said...

Of course I meant "an eye":)) And nice to meet you:))

J said...

Knee pain and rain :) The red lentil, spices and coconut milk make it seem like a nice Indian curry :) Like the salsa, unusual!

The Secret Ingredient said...

LOVE lentils of all sorts--- I have a big tub of green ones in my pantry right now waiting for a rainy day (we're in a drought here in CT!). I'll have to run out and get some red---haven't used that variety in awhile. I eat the brown sort a few times a week as a cold salad----do you think these would work in that manner---or are they too soft and might fall apart?

Pille said...

Mulligatawny must be the coolest name ever for a soup! I've never tried one (shame on me, especially as I lived in the UK for 7 years!), but soon, I hope.. (And then using your recipe, of course!)

MeloMeals said...

Beautiful soup... I love the addition of the apple/celery relish. What an interesting addition.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Sig-You're so sweet. Thanks! And I'll take a little bit of your rain, but not too much. I've gotten used to not carrying an umbrella, you know. ;)

Veronica-Red lentils are a nice change from brown sometimes.I swear the knee thing is true! :)

Bri-Hi! It's so nice to meet you too. I hope you try the soup; it's just right for the cooler weather we've been having. And thanks for visiting. It's always a pleasure to meet new readers. Hope you drop by again. :)

Jyothsna-I guess it is really like a curry. I'd love to try a bowl of yours though! :)

The Secret Ingredient-No, I think brown could work. Red are quickest cooking and softest lentils, so if you made it with brown, I'd cook them longer, like 35-40 minutes or until tender. The red just seem to go better with the Indian flavors and the coconut milk, but I don't see it wouldn't work with another type. Good luck! :)

Pille-I love to say it too! :) It's so easy and delicious; I do hope you give it a try!

Melody-It's addictive just on its own!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Oh Susan, this really does look perfect for just any day, even a sunny hot day especially with the apple celery salsa! Lentils are so good and the spices in this really excite the taste buds.

Proud Italian Cook said...

I just bought some red lentils, and wasn't quite sure what to do with them. Now I know, thanks to you!!!

Anonymous said...

hahhahi know it rained for like a second! and of course while i was at work so i couldn't frolic about.

soup looks wonderful. i'm lentilly challenged, maybe i'll try this one :)

Anonymous said...

Haha I'm surprised you didn't say "I told you so!" to your hubby. That soup sounds fabulousss. In Chicago, we have PLENTY rainy days so perhaps I'll give this a try.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

That is a lovely soup and a fine set of ingredients to use with lentils. You've got me wishing for rain!

KellytheCulinarian said...

What an eclectic mix of ingredients for s drizzly day.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Tanna-"Excite the taste buds." Ooh, I like that. Thanks!

Proud Italian Cook-I love it when that happens! :)

Aria-This one's good even for the lentilly-challenged. ;)

Hillary-I hope you do; it'll really warm you up!

TW-Better get your umbrella ready. ;)

Kelly-Glad you like it!

Jo-Ann said...

Hi Susan - the soup was deeelicious!!!. One of my favorite cuisines is Indian - keep those recipes coming.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Ooh, I'm so pleased that you liked it. It seems my Dad was a big fan too! It's always a pleasure to read your remarks. Thanks, Jo-Ann!

Rachael Narins said...

That just sounds SO good! As for the rain, I watched it, and was so happy! My car needed it!

Chris said...

so sorry about the achy knee...but this soup looks like the perfect remedy. Yum! I am so excited for the cool weather..these recipes are peeeeerfect!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Rachael-We got a little more rain yesterday, so my car is really dirty now.

Chris-Aw, I'm used to it. Thanks though!

Jeanne said...

Mmmm, I love red lentils. I was astonished when I first discovered I liked something so darn HEALTHY! I sometimes cook them together with green lentils to make a lentil stew that is at once goopy and chewy. Works beautifully :)