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.

Butternut Squash Soup

There is something about having at least one ingredient prepped  that makes me about 10x more likely to cook after a long day of work instead of looking at a list of unassembled ingredients and deciding to pop some popcorn for dinner (not that, um, I would EVER do that.) On Sunday I tossed a butternut squash in the Instant Pot treatment (one cup of salted water, six minutes on high with manual release) while I made dinner. I also cleaned and gave its seeds about an hour in the oven on 200 degrees to dry them out. And so, having given myself just that little bit of momentum, this Monday night meal came together nicely.
asavoryplate.com|butternut squash soup
Butternut Squash garnished with Spiced Butternut Seeds
This soup was intended to be my sister’s recipe, one that takes dairy cream and is livened up with apple juice. But when I forgot to pick up the cream and remembered I had coconut cream I decided to go a different direction. As with all my ‘recipes’ you’ll want to adjust to your liking. I cook for one and buy the smallest butternut squash I can find in the pile. If you’re cooking for a family and picked out the larger squash you’ll want to taste and adjust as you go.

Not-exactly-my-sister’s Butternut Squash Soup

4-ish servings
half an onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
red curry powder to taste
olive oil
one not very large butternut squash, peeled and cut and precooked if possible
2 cups chicken stock
half a can of coconut cream
one lime
salt to taste
lime juice to taste (optional)
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat your favorite sauté oil – I used olive oil and a smidge of butter. Sauté the onions until fragrant. Add the garlic and continue cooking for a minute or so. Add the curry powder and sauté til fragrant.
Add the chicken stock and the butternut squash. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer til tender. If you haven’t had a chance to pre-cook the squash this will take longer but still work just fine.
While the soup is simmering, zest and supreme the lime. Once the squash is tender, add the zest and lime. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup thoroughly. Add the coconut cream. Heat thoroughly.
Taste and add curry powder or salt to taste. The coconut cream and butternut squash combo might be a tad too sweet. If so a splash of bottled lime juice will balance things out. 

Spiced Butternut Seeds

seeds from the butternut squash, washed and dried (200 for an hour should do it)
olive oil
ground cumin
ground coriander
black pepper
Toss the seeds with just enough olive oil to coat. Add the cumin, coriander, salt and pepper to taste. Bake in oven at 350 until crisp, about 30 minutes.

Soup Season

I feel like in January soups and salads battle it out for prominence on our plates. Salads because so many of us are looking to balance out the overindulgence of the holidays. And soups because, well, nothing is better for balancing out the cold weather. For me, soups have to win hands down. After all I can eat a salad any day of the year. But I’m not going to go for a hot bowl of lentil soup in the heat of July. I embrace soup season wholeheartedly.

This soup from the New York Times has been a staple in my kitchen since it was published in 2008. I love it for its pantry friendly ingredients list, its freezer-friendliness and its easy set and forget nature. I like to top it with toasted spiced pumpkin seeds. Or a dollop of yogurt. Or lots of cilantro. What will be your favorite garnish? Find the recipe here.

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon | asavoryplate.com
A little soup season perfection