I sincerely hope that this is the last time I will be cooking soup this winter. Don’t get me wrong, I love soup and I have made countless different batches since the cold weather first hit NYC last fall. My soup making obsession rose to new levels when my dear dad gave me the ultimate Christmas gift: a Cuisinart food processor. (Clearly the way to my heart is through cookware.)
The truth is there is nothing like a hot bowl of soup when it’s cold and dreary outside, and I often find that it is the only thing that will warm me up on a frigid day no matter how many sweaters I pile on. So while the icy wind was howling outside my window, I flipped through my new favorite cookbook, Meatless by Martha Stewart, and was instantly drawn to this recipe. The balance of spicy curry powder with creamy coconut milk and sweet dried cherries is amazing. Top it off with some fresh cilantro and you have a soup that is complex in flavor and just plain beautiful to look at. Here’s hoping this batch lasts me until the weather gets warm enough to start making my favorite springtime recipes again.
Cause wait a second, today is the first day of spring. Oh, that lovely word and all that it conjures. Brooklyn in the spring is a pretty magical place and I highly recommend visiting if you don’t have the pleasure of living here. Before I moved to Brooklyn last summer, I lived in Soho, which — don’t get me wrong — is a charming neighborhood. However, as soon as the temperature rises and people venture outside to catch a glimpse of the sun, the streets get packed with tourists, the sidewalk cafes fill up, and riding your bike comes with the risk being hit by a cab or colliding with a pedestrian.
Brooklyn is a different story. I live in Williamsburg and while it’s true that there are luxury condos going up all around me, there is still some peace here and it’s a perfect place to enjoy the change of seasons. In a couple of weeks, the Brooklyn Flea will open by the waterfront where you can peruse antiques, young designers’ latest wares, and a plethora of delicious artisanal food made by local vendors. Also, unlike the city proper, practically every restaurant has outdoor seating and waiting for a table is rare. I love going to Hotel Delmano to sip on an exquisitely crafted cocktail, or wandering over to the rooftop bar at Berry Park to check out the amazing view of Manhattan, beer in hand.
The best part of living is Brooklyn is ease of biking wherever you want to go. It’s true that the subways are more spread out in Brooklyn, but if you are lucky enough to own a bike, you have the pleasure of being able ride from Williamsburg to Red Hook for crabs and corn hole at Brooklyn Crab in a mere 30 minutes with little traffic to worry about. If craft beer and homemade ice cream sandwiches are more your thing, there is nothing like biking over to Bierkraft where they always have about 20 tasty brews on tap. You can even take one of their awesome subs (and maybe even a growler) to go and enjoy it while soaking up some rays just a few blocks away in Prospect Park.
My friends all know I have an ongoing love affair with Brooklyn and they are probably sick of hearing about it, but I guess the thought of springtime flowers just brings out the romantic side in me. Until then, I will be enjoying this tasty soup and anxiously awaiting sixty-degree weather.
Curried Red Lentil Soup with Dried Cherries and Cilantro (adapted from Meatless by Martha Stewart)
2 teaspoons of canola oil
1 piece (about 2 inches) of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped (2 tablespoons)
1 large shallot, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 teaspoons of curry powder
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
4 cups water
1 cup dried red lentils, picked over and rinsed
1/3 cup coarsely chopped dried cherries
3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons cilantro leaves
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add ginger, garlic, shallot and carrots, and cook, stirring often until softened, about 7 minutes. Add curry powder, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, 1/2 cup coconut milk, the water, and lentils, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until lentils and carrots are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool slightly. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth.
Reserving some cherries for garnish, stir cherries and chopped cilantro into soup and ladle into 4 bowls. Dividing evenly, swirl in remaining 1/4 cup coconut milk, and garnish with cherries and cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.