Thursday, 3 January 2013

Red lentil coconut soup

Happy New Years everyone! Have you made any resolutions for 2013?

I'm not going to promise to post more recipes, but I will try :) I've actually got another resolution regarding food, I'm going to go vegan for a month. 

So why do I want to try going vegan? I've always cooked quite a lot of vegetarian food, and I think that in general we in the Western world eat way too much meat and fish. The main food industry is horrid (please do pay a bit more for your dairy, chicken, pork, beef and seafood to ensure you get animals that are better treated and responsibly sourced!), and there really is no reason to have meat with every meal. Not to mention the impact raising large amount of animals have on the environment, and that we are (permanently) destroying the ecosystem in the oceans by overfishing. In addition, the dairy and egg industry are also treating and keeping animals in awful conditions. So one reason to go vegan is that it is a more ethical and sustainable lifestyle. That said, I'm not against eating animals, we're omnivores, but I think everyone should eat less and that the animals raised for food should be treated well.

Another reason is plain curiosity, can I as a cheese addict survive without eating dairy products for a month? I do anticipate serious withdrawal symptoms and cravings for cheese. Another craving will for sure be for bacon. I also feel that I need a bit of challenge in the kitchen, taking away not only meat/fish, but also dairy and eggs, will definitely give me that challenge. 

I will however continue using my leather bag and shoes during this month. Maybe not very vegan, but I think there are levels of commitment to everything, and it is up to everyone to find a level they're comfortable at. This goes for pretty much for anything in life from recycling to exercising to working. Better to do something than nothing. Getting rid of the bag or shoes I usually use is a waste, I got them already, and buying new ones just for this month doesn't make sense and goes against my general attempt at downsizing my possessions (more on that another time). 

Another thing I'm not going to really bother with is if the wine or beer I drink are vegan. Mostly because there will be very little of either this month as I got a finance exam and crazy amount of work. I'm also skint....

Part of the difficulties with eating vegan for a month is going to be eating out. There are of course vegan restaurants in London, and many others serve at least one vegan dish, but I'm thinking more of having a coffee at work (fingers crossed they'll have soy milk, or I will be (even more) grumpy and tired at work), or having a quick bite on my way to university. 

Another challenge is breakfast. I typically have something like crisp bread with cheese, yogurt or omelette for breakfast, all non-vegan options. I have to admit though that most mornings my breakfast is just coffee with milk.... For when I want something more, I think that probably crisp bread with hummus or a fruity smoothie would work well. 

I will also have to think a bit more about supplements. It can be more difficult to get enough calcium, B12, iron and D vitamin eating a vegan diet, and I will start taking a multi vitamin to ensure I get enough. 

For anyone else thinking of trying a vegan diet, I found helpful tips and food inspiration on Serious eats - The vegan experience, Post punk kitchen, Vegan yum yum, Vegie head, Oh she glows, and Vegan yack attack

So from now and for 30 days, until 3rd February, I will try a vegan diet. I'll try to keep the blog updated with my experiences and recipes.

The first vegan recipe for this month is this delicious red lentil coconut soup. It's a bit spicy with sweet coconut and a bit of zing from lime and coriander.

Red lentil coconut soup (serves 4-6)
250 g red lentils
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 peppers (any colour), chopped
1 garlic bulb, finely chopped
2-3 red chillies, finely chopped
3 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1 tbsp curry powder
3 limes, zest and juice
2 tbsp mango chutney
1 pinch of brown or white sugar
2 cans of chopped tomatoes
1 can coconut milk (full-fat, trust me on this, it tastes better and half-fat is just diluted full-fat anyway)
0.5 L water
2 cubes of vegetable stock
0.5 tsp salt
1 bunch of fresh coriander, chopped

Toast the coriander seeds in a dry frying pan for a couple of minutes and then grind to a coarse powder

In a large pot, add onions, garlic, peppers, chillies, ginger, curry, coriander and lime zest. Fry for 4-5 min

Stir in the tomato paste and fry for another 2 min

Rinse the red lentils in cold water, add to the pot

Add the cans of tomatoes and coconut milk, mango chutney and water

Cook at medium to high heat for 10-15 min, stir occasionally

Add the vegetable stock and salt, and simmer for 15-20 min until the red lentils are soft. The reason for not adding the stock and salt from the beginning is that it may result in harder and more bitter lentils. I'm not sure it really makes a difference though....

Using a hand mixer or food processor, blend 3/4 of the soup, reserving 1/4 to keep some chunky bits in the soup

Transfer the soup back to the pot, add more water if it is too thick, and stir in the lime juice and fresh coriander

Taste and adjust by adding more salt or sugar if necessary

Smaklig måltid!


  1. Absolutely delicious the fried coriander makes this a really tasty soup!

  2. Agree, it's really delicious! Not bad for my first lentil soup :)

  3. So happy both of you liked it!
    Clare - coriander is great, used not really like it until I realised how good it can be on a trip to Mexico
    Susan - yay for lentil soups :)