Crockpot, Meet Pantry

Like many in my area, summer can mean moving time and, this year, my family is one of many planning to set up a new nest. For me, part of having a smooth move is making sure we don't move what we don't have to. Clothing that's been outgrown gets passed on to others that might be able to use it. Items that have been sitting idle for too long get donated to seek adventures with someone else. And the freezer, refrigerator, and pantry get close scrutiny and meals get planned to use up most of what's there.
Some things, like salad fixings or the makings of sandwiches, are easy to use this time of year. Then there are more challenging ingredients. One of the more interesting challenges of late involved a bunch of lentils and some coconut powder. My first thought was a thick soup. However, Mother Nature has been tossing 90 degree days my way of late and the last thing I want to do is simmer soup on the stove for hours. My solution? My trusty crockpot, of course! A bit of quick stove prep and long simmer in the crockpot later, and I had a creamy soup that was perfect with crusty bread or even a simple sandwich. And my kitchen didn't end up bathed in heat in the process. Now, if only those 90 degree days take a vacation when it's time to move!

Coconut Lentil Soup

  • 3 T. olive oil, bacon fat, or butter -- choose your favorite or what you have on hand
  • 1 large sweet onion -- peeled and cut into very thin wedges
  • 3 c. dried lentils -- I prefer red, but you can use any variety
  • 2 c. coconut milk -- canned works fine, but I used the last of my coconut powder to mix up what I needed
  • 2-4 c. water -- you may need to add water as the soup cooks
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 T. Thai red curry paste
  • Salt, to taste

In a large skillet, heat the fat of your choice and add the prepared onion. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is softened but not browned. Add the lentils and stir briefly to coat with the pan juices. Add the coconut milk and stir to combine. Remove from the heat.

Carefully pour the lentil mixture into a slow cooker. Add 2 cups of water or just enough to cover the lentils. You should check the soup several times and add more water if needed. Add the ginger, curry paste, and salt. Set the crockpot on LOW and cook for 4 hours.

Before serving, blend the soup using an immersion blender or by transferring to a blender or food processor. I like using the immersion blender because you can blend the soup in the crockpot and serve it from there. If desired, serve with a dollop of plain yogurt and a drizzle of chili oil.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes, plus slow cooking time

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