Monday, 7 May 2012

Curried Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Soup

Right now I'm sitting in my grandmother's quiet living room, with the late morning sun streaming through the window, listening to The Civil Wars, awaiting the call to join my grandparents in a meal of seal flippers. Yes, seal flippers. I'm not sure how I'm going to take this.

How did I ever put myself in a position where I would be eating seal flippers? Well, about a month ago I lost my job. Now before you start feeling sorry for me, this is not a pity post. I am not one least bit sorry! I did my best, but was let go for reasons I had no control over. However, God was in control, and it was all for my good.

So, to keep a long story short, I felt the Lord calling me back to Newfoundland. It was a giant step of faith for me, after all, I had plans! But I made a decision to trust the Lord with every aspect of my life a long time ago, and I know He has better things in store for me, so I booked a one way ticket home, and now, here I am, about to eat seal flippers.

Following God isn't always easy. As happy as I was for a new beginning and a new adventure, it's not easy to keep the faith that you are doing the right thing. Going from a high paying, high employment town to a place where everyone is moving elsewhere for jobs so that they can provide for their families is... well, let's say I faced a lot of discouragement. I guess it would be better if I knew why I was here, or even how long I am here for. I know nothing, except that I am where I am supposed to be and that God has something for me here (in fact, in just my first week here, He healed my thyroid. More on that some other day). It's in times like these that I need to keep my eyes on Jesus, not the problems around me, and just trust Him. After all, I know that when He calls, He also provides.

Needless to say about all of this, I was stressed. And sitting at home for two weeks just awaiting this "life change" to happen, as exciting as it is it's also nerve wracking! So what do I do when I'm anxious and bored and there's absolutely nothing I can do? Of course I eat. Eat, and eat, and eat. It does nothing but make me feel like crap, but I know I'm not alone in that - I'm sure a lot of people nervous-eat their entire house, right? No? Ok, well, moving along...

I made this soup one night in a desperate attempt to get back on track and to keep myself in check. I wanted something different, tasty, and healthy, but what I found about this soup is that it's also very comforting. It has sweet potato, carrot, red lentils, and just the right amount of kick to make you feel like you're eating something exotic. Also, I'm just really into beans and lentils lately, especially in soup.

Recipe from Spilling the Beans by Julie Van Rosendaal, and Sue Duncan.

Olive oil, for cooking
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1/2 cup dry red lentils
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons curry paste or powder
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock + 1 cup of water
Salt to taste
1/2 cup cream (optional)
Plain yogurt or sour cream for serving (optional)

Start by chopping your onions, garlic, and ginger. Clearly I did not crush my garlic, although I recommend it. Add a splash of oil to the bottom of a pot and cook onions, garlic, and ginger on medium heat until onions are soft. I found the ginger stuck to the bottom of the pot, if this happens, just de-glaze with a bit of the stock.

Next you would add your sweet potato and carrot. Unfortunately, I made the classic mistake of thinking that a yam was a sweet potato. It's not. So I added half an apple to make up for any sweetness that might have been lost by using a yam.

This blog should really be called "Sarah's Cooking Adventures" because half of the time it really is an adventure, although not always a pleasant one. Often, it's a learning process and I just like to reinforce what I've learnt on here. As Joy the Baker would say, that's real life.

Add the dry red lentils to the pot. Look at these little beauties.

Once the vegetables and lentils are in, add the curry paste, stock, water, and salt to taste. Put the lid on, bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes the vegetables should be soft and lentils cooked.

Stir in the cream, if you want it. Blend until smooth.

And you have a delicious soup! This soup is rather quick to make and is very hearty and filling. You could easily make it vegan, too, by using vegetable stock and not adding the cream.

I should also note that since being home I have made this soup for my grandparents, using a real sweet potato, with double the lentils and half the cream, and there was almost no difference in the taste, although a little thicker because of the extra lentils, so if you do that be sure to add an extra cup or so of water.

Top with a dollop of plain yogurt and freshly cracked black pepper. You could also try sprinkling nutmeg or paprika on top for a nice change. Toasted bread rubbed with a garlic clove and a little olive oil on the side.

Also, a year ago I graduated university. My first year away from school did not finish how I expected it to, but I am very thankful for surprises :)

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