Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk and Saffron – Michelligatawny

Lentil soup | asavoryplate.com

Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk and Saffron – Michelligatawny

Sometimes interesting things happen when working within limitations. A couple years ago I was cooking for a sick friend with a long list of food limitations and came up with this soup. She told me it reminded her of Mulligatawny so I’ve called it after her ever since: Michelligatawny.
lentil soup | asavoryplate.com
Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk, Saffron and Tofu


Recipes are like the Pirate code from Pirates of the Caribbean – more like guidelines anyway. That said, it helps to know why particular ingredients are chosen before deciding on substitutes. Most lentil soups I make are thick. They break down in the cooking process and absorb liquid – creating a stewy texture. This soup is more about the broth and so I chose French Green Lentils. They are better at holding their shape and not taking over the bowl. So if you choose a different lentil you will want to keep that in mind.

Every time I’ve served or been served a dish flavored with saffron someone will talk about how it is ‘the most expensive spice in the world. Please pretty please for me – will you cut that conversation off? It’s tedious. If you have to discuss the saffron let’s compare how much saffron you need to flavor a dish  to how much you need of one of my other favorite spices, dried dill weed. Pinches versus palmfuls. Or consider all the work needed to deliver it. Saffron delivers an awful lot of flavor for all it takes to get it to our tables. Maybe just enjoy that flavor without getting wrapped up in the dollars and cents.

Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk and Saffron – Michelligatawny

4-ish servings
one can of coconut milk
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup French Green Lentils
one cup diced onion
olive oil
2 tsp finely diced or grated ginger
1/2 a tsp fresh grated turmeric
pinch of saffron
1/2 cup diced tofu
salt to taste
Rinse and cook the lentils, simmering in the chicken stock (and a pinch of salt if the stock is unsalted) until tender – 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, sauté the onions in olive oil until soft. Add the ginger and cook through.
When the lentils are done cooking, drain and return to the pot. Add the onions and ginger along with the turmeric,  saffron, coconut milk and tofu. Cook over medium heat until heated through. Taste and add salt if needed.

nondairy milk at home

Jump to the recipes

Stop me if this is a story you already know: my stomach and milk do not get along at all. Years ago when I finally gave up on milk I started my nondairy milk substitute journey with soy milk (and who knew it would be a journey?). Then I switched to almond milk. Lately I’ve been eying the other options in the case – cashew and coconut mostly. But sometimes I eye the price tag and get annoyed. Or take a look at the ingredients list and get annoyed. Those days I often go home and make my own.

nondairy milk | asavoryplate.com
making nondairy milk at home

Reasons to make your nondairy at home:

1 You know what you’re getting – more of the good stuff (commercially prepared almond milk contains very few actual almonds) and less of the bad stuff (who needs fillers?)

2 Convenience – that moment after dinner when you realize you have nothing to make your morning oatmeal with and you. just. do. not. want. to go grocery shopping? I almost always have the right ingredients on hand for some version of this alternative milk.

3 Taste – ’nuff said.

4 Cost –  Homemade almond or cashew milk is more expensive than store-bought. But homemade oat or rice milk is crazy cheap. I use a blend to get the benefits of the protein in the nuts as well as the benefits of the frugal oats and rice.

5 Customizability – this is the reason I first learned to make almond milk. I wanted to give a friend with thyroid cancer an option for when she had to go iodine free. You can shift up the amount of salt or play around with ratios of almonds to oat – whatever your nondairy heart desires. I love that if I don’t feel like going to the trouble to cook and cool rice I don’t have to include it in my blend. Or if I don’t have enough cashews I can stick with almond. The list goes on.

Also – I love the pretty bottles of alternative milk in my fridge.

Reasons not to make your own nondairy milk:

1 Convenience – for me the grocery store trip is close enough that if I can drag myself to the car it’s as fast to just pick up the milk there – and that’s if you only count the active work time on the recipe.

2 Convenience (again)- I find using a nut bag or cheesecloth to strain the milk to be ridiculously tedious. So I don’t. I put it through a fine mesh strainer once or twice and deal with a little graininess at the bottom. Your mileage may vary. (This doesn’t apply to cashew milk, by the way. Cashew milk does not need to be strained.) If you want super smooth milk, it will be high maintenance to make at home – you might want to stick with store-bought.

3 Cost – If you are dead set on nut milks only (and don’t mind that you’re not getting very much in the way of actual nuts in your nut milk) store-bought is a better deal.

So, there are plenty of reasons to stick with your store-bought almond milk. And plenty to try making it at home. It’s not like this is a lifetime choice. Make the homemade stuff sometimes, buy the store-bought stuff sometimes. That’s how I roll.

Since I tend to do a blend of Almond, Oat, Cashew and Rice I’ve been trying for ages to come up with a name that plays on the first lettters of each. But I have too many pronounceable options and none of them sits quite right! Should it be ACRO milk? ROCA milk? ARCO, RACO, COAR? I think I lean most towards CORA milk – but I’m still not settled on it. What do you think?

If you want to give it a shot here are some basic directions. Adjust the details (salt, flavorings) to your liking. Many recipes call for dates to give a little bit of sweetness to your alt milk. I use raisins instead since they are such a staple in my kitchen.

Almond milk:
1/2 cup almonds
Soak in water overnight. Drain and puree in 2 cups of water with a pinch of salt and a few raisins.
Strain, add a little vanilla extract and chill.
Oat milk:
3/4 cup steel cut oats
Soak in water overnight. Drain and puree in 2 1/4 cups of water with a pinch of salt and a few raisins.
Strain, add a little vanilla extract and chill.
Cashew milk:
3/4 cup cashews
Soak in water overnight. Drain and puree in 2 1/2 cups of water with a pinch of salt.
Do not strain. Add a little vanilla extract and chill.
Rice milk:
1/2 cup brown rice (I use brown jasmine as that is the standard brown rice I keep on hand)
Cook. Cool. Puree with 2 cups of water, a pinch of salt and a few raisins.
Strain, add a little vanilla extract and chill.