Sunday, November 20, 2011

Creamy Carrot-Lentil-Coconut Soup with Tempeh and Rice Noodles

Although there were almost no groceries in my house, last weekend I realized that I needed to cook something for the upcoming crazy week.  It's been a little like this, though maybe with fewer screaming fans and less Cold War imagery.

Here's a bit of my thought process.  The one vegetable I had a lot of was carrots, and initially I was going to make carrot-ginger soup to take to campus with sandwiches, but then I realized I was out of ginger.  Ok, well... coconut milk goes well in a pureed carrot soup; perhaps that?  Oh, and perhaps some lentils to make it more filling, as in one of these stews.  And some of the same spices at the beginning as in that awesome green curry broth.  But then I can add in other stuff at the end, after pureeing it, as in that squash-pear-mushroom-bean soup from Veganomicon that my mom loves.  So with coconut milk, and the adding noodles and lime at the end it'll be a bit like that one soup I keep making this fall.  Except orange, and with more protein and fiber from the lentils, but still creamy.

I feel like this experience really exemplifies why I still like to cook from new recipes... because every recipe you try, you absorb new flavor combinations and techniques into your repertoire, even if not consciously.  Copying other people helps your own creativity.  At least in my kitchen.

This soup was indeed tasty and filling, but it was a little odd.  Noodles and tempeh felt out of place until I thinned the soup quite a bit; otherwise, it was more like pasta with too much sauce.  Mmm... actually this could be a pasta sauce.  Or a creamy soup sans noodles and tempeh.  Or, thinned out, a delicious meal. 

 Creamy Carrot-Lentil-Coconut Soup with Tempeh and Rice Noodles

1 bunch green onions
5 cloves garlic
1 serrano pepper (not de-seeded)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
5 carrots
splash tamari
1 1/2 c red lentils
4 c stock
1-2 c coconut milk
10 oz tempeh, cubed
splash tamari
small drizzle sesame oil
3 servings rice noodles
lime juice

1. In a largish saucepan, heat oil, then saute onions, garlic, ginger, chili, and spices over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add carrots, stir, deglaze with a splash of tamari.
2. Add lentils, stock, and coconut milk, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 20-30 minutes until lentils and carrots are soft.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the rice noodles, drain, and set aside.  Also, in a small skillet, heat the oil for the tempeh.  Brown the tempeh, turning regularly, then finish with tamari and sesame oil.  Remove from heat and set the tempeh aside as well.
4. When the lentils and carrots are soft, remove soup from heat and allow to cool.  Then puree the soup in batches in a blender (or using an immersion blender if you are so lucky).  Return soup to pot, add tempeh (but not noodles) and reheat.
5. Taste soup for salt, spiciness, and other seasonings.  Stir in lime juice to taste.  Just before serving, ladle in the rice noodles as well.  Serves about 4-6.

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