Here in the South, it may still be warm during the day, but there's quite a chill in the air come evening time. That's when I know it's soup weather.
This Indian spiced beauty is a pureed, vegetarian interpretation of the classic Mulligatawny soup, with carrots, tomatoes, lentils and coconut milk. It's perfect for dinner on these chilly fall nights, or warmed up and hauled to work in a thermos for lunch the next day.
This time of year, sometimes called "Indian Summer", correlates to the Earth element in acupuncture and Chinese medicine. The Earth element keeps us grounded through transitions in life. But when we have a weak Earth element, transitions are harder to deal with, and can really stress the body out. Signs of weak Earth include poor digestion, nausea, heavy limbs, fatigue, weight gain, and worrying too much. Eating warm and nourishing foods like this can really help ground you and strengthen that Earth element. In fact, any warm soup or stew, with plenty of cooked veggies, can be helpful. Especially helpful vegetables are the sweet, orange-y colored ones, like carrots, winter squashes and sweet potatoes. Keep an eye out - you'll see more recipes with these ingredients popping up here - and all over the web. In addition, the spices used here are extremely beneficial for stimulating the digestion. Using spices liberally in your cooking is one more thing you can do to keep the digestive fire strong.
1 T. ghee, butter or coconut oil
1 tsp. each - brown mustard seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, curry powder, turmeric powder
1 tsp. sea salt
1 onion, sliced
2 medium carrots, sliced
⅔ c. yellow split peas
1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 c. water or stock
1 c. coconut milk (from a can)
Topping suggestions: homemade croutons (shown) chopped cilantro, or toasted cashews.
Heat the ghee in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add all the spices and let them toast for a few minutes until fragrant, then add the onion, carrot and salt. Give it all a good stir to coat the veggies in the oil and spices, then let them cook for a few minutes to soften and just begin to brown.
Once the onion and carrot are a bit brown, add the split peas, tomato and water or stock and stir again. Turn the heat up to high, cover, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes, or until the carrots and split peas are cooked through.
Remove from the heat, and blend until smooth. I use an immersion blender and just stick it right into the pot - or you can transfer it in batches to your blender - just don't forget to vent the top so the steam can escape. Once smooth, add the coconut milk and stir to combine. Taste, and add salt if needed to make sure the flavors really pop.