Spicy Red Lentil Soup: A Recipe from the Damselfly Inn

Something a little hot just for you!

A few fictional years  have passed since Nan Grady was feeding her friends at the Damselfly Inn, but she’s still very much a voice in my head. Married now, and going by Nan Fuller, and still feeding her friends. I imagine them gathered around the big farm table in her kitchen, guests out enjoying the art museum or a play at the college, or warming up by the fire in the parlor. It’s cold and snowy outside. The pastures are white; the Fuller herd is in the barns. The sun goes down early, so the sky outside is dark, but the lights are burning bright in the yellow Victorian on County Road, and soup is on the menu.

Nan likes easy comfort food, but with a little something spicy and unexpected, so this recipe is one I can easily see her making. Pull up a seat at her table, and enjoy!

  • 2 T. coconut oil (olive is fine, too)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • fresh grated ginger to taste (I used a couple of tablespoons)*
  • 1 T. Thai red curry paste*
  • 2 T. Vietnamese chili garlic sauce (Tuong Ot Toi)*
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 T.  finely chopped garlic*
  • 1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes*
  • 2 tsp whole cumin seeds*
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander*
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric*
  • 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, do not drain
  • 4 c. vegetable or chicken stock/broth
  • 1 c. red lentils
  • good pinch of saffron threads*
  • chopped fresh cilantro (if you’re into that)
  • plain greek yogurt, sour cream, or crème fraîche

Heat the coconut oil over medium heat, then sauté the onions until they are softened and translucent, but not browned. Add everything from the ginger to the turmeric and sauté for a minute. Dump in the tomatoes, broth, and lentils. Give it a stir, then add the saffron threads. Simmer for about 15 minutes. If you like, you can immersion blend it at the end for smoothness, but it’s not necessary.

Serve topped with cilantro and yogurt (or other dairy). Yum!

*Basically, adjust all the flavors to suit what you like.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, Damselfly Inn is FREE for a limited time at Amazon, and you can pick up Buck’s Landing for just 99¢!

Dining Memorably: 2nd Look Saturday

In November 2008, in an effort to make myself write more, I participated in NaBloPoMo. When I ran out of material, I asked friends for suggestions. Here’s one of the responses. A recent conversation with a new friend reminded me of the number two meal, so I thought, why not share?

2nd Look Saturday Button

Ten Memorable Meals
originally posted 11/14/08

Veronique suggested some best of/top ten type posts. I immediately thought of meals, because I’m a foodie and a chef and food is my heroin. Just ask my hips. Plus, food is much more fun than blogging about learning and parenting and important stuff.

Some of these are restaurant meals, some are casual meals with friends and family, all make my heart all squishy with good memories. I present them to you sort of in an order, but nothing hard and fast.

  • L’Espalier, Boston, MA, April 2003: before Chef McClelland departed the original location, this was my dream restaurant. White glove service, exquisite cuisine, intimate setting, and Mark took me for my birthday. Perfect!
  • Harris’ Steakhouse, San Francisco, CA, June 2005: on our honeymoon, we found this place by opening a guidebook and putting a finger down. Best steak and atmosphere of the trip!
  • Dinner party with N & Friends, Medford, MA, October 2001: a carpet picnic extraordinaire with many of my best friends all together in my house, and good food made by a great cook (thanks, N!), enjoyed by all.
  • Thanksgiving at Uncle Andy and Aunt Steph’s house, November 1997 (I think it was ’97…): my mother’s younger sister came east with her family for the first time in almost 20 years. I got to meet her, and my five cousins for the first time. It was the first time the whole family was together for a holiday meal, and the first time I realized the size and fullness of my family. They are infinitely precious to me.
  • The campfire on Pine Hill when I may or may not have tried to light the entire campsite on fire, Harvard, MA, Summer 1995 or 96: This one was great. I was a counselor, working with a small group of older girls, and somehow the pre-lit coals for the dutch ovens ended up rolling down a hillside covered in dry pine needles. Still, all and all, I remember we ate pretty well. Plus, there’s the magic of summer camp…
  • That post musical meal at Denny’s, Worcester, MA, 1993 or ’94: The one where Alta first ordered Moons Over My Hammy. Good times.
  • Valentine’s Day, Medford, MA, February 2003: I made Mark a four course dinner starting with home made fettucine and salmon roe, and ending with a chocolate raspberry torte. Tres romantic.
  • That great little restaurant, Rome, Italy, March, 1994: We ate at this little local place, and there was wine and so. much. food. We spoiled ourselves, and it was great!
  • Dinner in Manhattan with L&T, NYC, February, 2005: Osso buco. Oh. My. Heart. My heart was safe, though, because my husband made us walk a hundred blocks south through he Upper East Side before dinner.
  • The I.N.I., Lakeville, MA, Summer, 1998: Spaghetti and terrible sangria with Al, Ali, and Guy. I’m sure the food was awful, but the company was positively intoxicating. Looking back, I was so carefree and lighthearted. We all were. While I wouldn’t trade what I have now, I miss that freedom.

I’m sure there are more in the corners of my mind, but for now, there you have it.

Ten Memorable Meals

Veronique suggested some best of/top ten type posts. I immediately thought of meals, because I’m a foodie and a chef and food is my heroin. Just ask my hips. Plus, food is much more fun than blogging about learning and parenting and important stuff.

Some of these are restaurant meals, some are casual meals with friends and family, all make my heart all squishy with good memories. I present them to you sort of in an order, but nothing hard and fast.

  • L’Espalier, Boston, MA, April 2003: before Chef McClelland departed the original location, this was my dream restaurant. White glove service, exquisite cuisine, intimate setting, and Mark took me for my birthday. Perfect!
  • Harris’ Steakhouse, San Francisco, CA, June 2005: on our honeymoon, we found this place by opening a guidebook and putting a finger down. Best steak and atmosphere of the trip!
  • Dinner party with N & Friends, Medford, MA, October 2001: a carpet picnic extraordinaire with many of my best friends all together in my house, and good food made by a great cook (thanks, N!), enjoyed by all.
  • Thanksgiving at Uncle Andy and Aunt Steph’s house, November 1997 (I think it was ’97…): my mother’s younger sister came east with her family for the first time in almost 20 years. I got to meet her, and my five cousins for the first time. It was the first time the whole family was together for a holiday meal, and the first time I realized the size and fullness of my family. They are infinitely precious to me.
  • The campfire on Pine Hill when I may or may not have tried to light the entire campsite on fire, Harvard, MA, Summer 1995 or 96: This one was great. I was a counselor, working with a small group of older girls, and somehow the pre-lit coals for the dutch ovens ended up rolling down a hillside covered in dry pine needles. Still, all and all, I remember we ate pretty well. Plus, there’s the magic of summer camp…
  • That post musical meal at Denny’s, Worcester, MA, 1993 or ’94: The one where Alta first ordered Moons Over My Hammy. Good times.
  • Valentine’s Day, Medford, MA, February 2003: I made Mark a four course dinner starting with home made fettucine and salmon roe, and ending with a chocolate raspberry torte. Tres romantic.
  • That great little restaurant, Rome, Italy, March, 1994: We ate at this little local place, and there was wine and so. much. food. We spoiled ourselves, and it was great!
  • Dinner in Manhattan with L&T, NYC, February, 2005: Osso buco. Oh. My. Heart. My heart was safe, though, because my husband made us walk a hundred blocks south through he Upper East Side before dinner.
  • The I.N.I., Lakeville, MA, Summer, 1998: Spaghetti and terrible sangria with Al, Ali, and Guy. I’m sure the food was awful, but the company was positively intoxicating. Looking back, I was so carefree and lighthearted. We all were. While I wouldn’t trade what I have now, I miss that freedom.

I’m sure there are more in the corners of my mind, but for now, there you have it.