Whenever David and I are going out of town, I spend the week leading up to the trip trying to eat down the food we have in the refrigerator. It becomes some kind of Chopped-style competition in my own kitchen.
“Now, what can I do with half of a pineapple, collard greens, and cilantro?”
Obviously it doesn’t matter for foods that keep for a long time like onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, and potatoes. However, for things with a short shelf life like leafy greens, I do my best to make sure they don’t go to waste. Inevitably that means that the night before we leave and the evening we return, there’s very little left to have for dinner.
For just such an occasion, I make pantry-friendly Curried Lentil Soup. All of the ingredients utilize pantry and refrigerator staples – red lentils, garlic, onions, and spices. Those are foods I have on hand all the time and have long shelf lives.
For people who think that healthy food is expensive, time consuming, or bland, this soup clobbers all of those criticisms. The soup is ready from start to finish in only about 25 minutes and costs change to make. I use one of my favorite curry powders for easy and delicious flavor. (For this soup, I like the sweet curry powder from Penzeys Spices, but if you have a favorite curry powder, use that instead.)
I serve the soup with crackers, bread, brown rice, or pull out frozen appetizers from Trader Joe’s. Either the vegetable pakora (shown here) or uttapam work particularly well. Plus, the pakora takes about the same amount of time to heat as the soup.
I tend to make just enough for two. However, if you’re cooking for a bigger group or want leftovers, it’s easy to double. And like so many soups, this one just gets better with time as the flavors develop and meld.