The spices in this soup are just right and many kids enjoy the intense flavours. Many of these spices are recognized to have anti-viral properties, and I ate this soup at the first signs of a flu virus and the next day was feeling great! I make this soup at least once a month in the winter, by request of my daughter, Laura.
Red lentils are lower in fiber than the green/brown more common version, and are a good addition to a babies diet from as early as 8 months old. They are a great souce of protein (especially when accompanied by rice, like they are in this recipe) and contain folate, vitamin B1 and minerals.
Coconut milk is used to balance out the spice of the soup and it is always a healthier addition than cream or milk.
Parsnips* are difficult to find in Greece, but are worth the effort (see address below). If you can’t find them, just add extra carrot.
Carrot-Red Lentil Soup with Asian Spices
(adapted from the Union Square Café Cookbook)
2 TBSP olive oil
1 ½ TBSP fresh grated ginger
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp cumin
½ tsp curry
½ tsp ground coriander seeds
¾ c sliced onion
¾ c peeled and sliced parsnips*
4 c scrubbed and sliced carrots
½ c sliced celery
1 tsp salt
1/4 c red lentils
¼ c basmati rice
7 cups of vegetable stock or water
¾ c coconut milk
2 TBSP of lemon juice
1. In a large soup pan, warm the olive oil over low heat and stir in the ginger and spices and cook for 1 minute. Add the onions, parsnips, carrots and celery. Add salt (and pepper if you like, but I let people add there own fresh ground pepper individually).
2. Raise the heat to medium and cook the vegetables for 10-12 minutes, until they are softened but not browned
3. Stir in the lentils and basmati rice, until combined. Add the stock (or water) and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 30 minutes.
4. Puree the soup in a blender.
5. Return the soup to the pan, bring back to a boil and add coconut milk and lemon juice. Warm for 1 minute and serve.
*parsnips are difficult to find in Greece, but there is a small green grocer called 'To Perivoli', in Brilissia that brings them: Leof. Pentelis 62, across from the AB Basilopolos supermarket, AND they deliver. Parsnips are related to the carrot and look similar except for their white colour. Parsnips are sweeter than carrots when they are cooked, have more vitamins and minerals and babies from 6 months enjoy them steamed and pureed. It is always worth experimenting with new tastes!