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Red Lentil Coconut Curry Soup

This is adapted from a recipe by Leslie Cerier, author of "Going Wild in the Kitchen". I often turn to Leslie's cookbooks and website for kitchen inspiration!

This fun and festive soup beautifully blends warming winter spices with tomatoes and coconut milk, evoking also the sweetness of summer. I have often used canned tomatoes in this recipe. While not totally fresh, canning is a great way to have the tastes of summer during a New England winter.

Yields 6-8 servings

2 1/2 cups of water
1 cup of red lentils
1 cup coarsely chopped onions
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons grated ginger
1 teaspoon seeded, coarsely chopped cayenne pepper, optional
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3-inch piece dulse or 1 tablespoon dulse flakes, optional
4 cups bite-sized cauliflower florets
3 1/2 cups coarsely chopped plum tomatoes, or canned tomatoes in the off season
13.5-ounce can coconut milk
4 cups butternut squash, or sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish

1. Bring the water, lentils, onions, squash, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper and dulse (if using), to a boil in a 6-quart stockpot. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer covered for 15-20 minutes or until the lentils soften and begin to melt and turn yellow.
2. Add the cauliflower, tomatoes, and coconut milk to the pot and continue to simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft.
3. Add the salt, and adjust the seasonings, if desired.
4. Ladle the soup into hot bowls. Serve plain or garnished with cilantro.

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