I have always been a fan of Thai flavors, one of them being curry. If you want a healthy meal that will leave you feeling satisfied then this is the stew for you! You may add in chicken or another protein if you wish, but I find that the lentils already have 10 grams of protein per serving so a meat isn't really necessary.
(Makes 3 to 4 servings)
1-1/4 cups red lentils
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Pinch of cayenne
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2-3/4 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3/4 cup coconut milk (I used light)
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1.Combine the curry powder, cumin, cinnamon, coriander and cayenne in a small bowl and set aside.
2.Melt the butter in a large, nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and jalapeño. Sauté until the onion is soft, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the reserved spice mixture, season lightly with salt and pepper, and continue cooking until the spices are fragrant, about 2 minutes more. Stir in the tomato paste. (Add meat in this step if you choose to).
Make sure you rinse your lentils before adding! If you don't your soup might turn out a little dirtier than expected :/
3.Add the vegetable stock, lentils and carrots. Stir to combine and cover partially. Simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the lentils and carrots are tender and a good deal of the liquid has been absorbed.
4.Stir in the coconut milk and tomatoes and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the tomatoes soften. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, then stir in the cilantro, lemon juice and zest.
If grape tomatoes aren't available you can use cherry tomatoes, diced fresh tomatoes or drained canned tomatoes. You need between 1-1/2 to 2 cups total.
Feel free to add extra heat with an extra jalapeño or two and some additional cayenne.