This soup ticks so many boxes. It’s easy to make even if you’re not really a cook. It’s cheap. It tastes delicious and it’s highly nutritious too.
As well as the lentils, rice and coconut, the soup uses ginger, turmeric and garlic too. These are now very much regarded as super-foods, offering lots of health benefits in tiny packages.
Ginger is now more widely known as a treatment for indigestion, but it also helps regulate blood sugar levels. Importantly it also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can prevent cell damage and help ward off chronic disease.
Turmeric has long been recognised in Ayurvedic medicine for its beneficial properties, but now western medicine is beginning to recognise it too. Research has found that curcumin, a natural compound found in turmeric, can help eliminate certain viruses. It has also been shown to improve memory and mood in people with mild, age-related memory loss.
This recipe has black pepper in it to add to the overall tastiness. Coincidentally research has shown that combining the piperine in black pepper with the curcumin in turmeric enhances curcumin absorption by up to 2,000%. Another nutritional benefit of this recipe.
Garlic is known for its ability to fight infections. I used to eat raw garlic when I had a sore throat. The sore throat (and my loved ones) would disappear very quickly. It also appears to reduce the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol levels and cancer. Cooking, as we are doing here, reduces these benefits somewhat, but it is still worth doing.
Do remember, in case you’re getting put off by all this worthiness, that it tastes delicious and is easy to make.
In this recipe I use rice, but you can use other grains if you prefer – millet or quinoa would work well. I like to use risotto rice as it starts to disintegrate in a way that adds body to the soup.
If you have some leftover cooked grains, use that, rather than cooking more from scratch.
The basic soup is not that spicey. This is great if you have a delicate stomach. Remember the ginger should help you digest it, but you can add other spices, such as chilli or cayenne to spice it up.
We know that the cheap and lowly red split lentil has great health-giving properties. They have been described as “the world’s oldest health food” by the WebMD website. Lentils have a high fibre content with all the benefits that brings for regulating blood sugar and reducing cholesterol levels. They are also a great source of potassium which helps blood pressure and heart health. Dr Michael Greger of nutritionfacts.org recommends we all eat beans, peas and lentils every day.
If you find all beans and lentils give you gas, try adding a half teaspoon of the Indian spice asafoetida to the soup at the beginning.
It can seem strange not to start by sautéing some onions or some garlic, but the coconut milk gives it that great mouth-feel of oil when it’s added towards the end.
So here’s the recipe:
100 gms risotto rice dry weight
100g red lentils
1 heaped tsp turmeric
1 tbsp coarsely grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
200 gms of grated celeriac and/or carrot
1 litre of vegetable stock
400ml can coconut milk
Pepper and salt to taste
Fresh coriander or parsley as a garnish (optional)
- Cook the risotto rice in water until al dente (or use any other cooked grain).
- Put the first nine ingredients in a saucepan and simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.
- Add the can of coconut milk and stir well.
- Taste at this point and see if you want to add more cumin and/or coriander and whether you want to add some heat with chilli powder or curry spices.
- Cover and cook for 10 minutes, giving an occasional stir if needed.
- Optional: add some chopped parsley or coriander to each bowl before serving.
You can add some shredded spinach or chard to the pan at this point. Leave for a few minutes on a low heat and then stir before serving. If you wish, you could cook the chard separately in a little water until wilted. Once the soup has been put into bowls top each bowl with some of this chard.
This is based on an original recipe from the BBC Good Food website.
This article was originally published on Sixtyandme.