Recipe: Vegetarian Lentil + Barley Curry Soup (But Really Stew)

I’m posting this today, on a Saturday, because a) I am eating the leftovers from this meal right now and they are OUTSTANDING and, b) my blog needs an updating pretty badly and, c) I am too drained to be anything even approaching witty and, d) I don’t have to be witty to post a recipe.  Oh, and e) you all LOVE my recipes.  Right?

The recipe this was based off of is called a soup, but I don’t believe it.  It’s extremely thick and hearty, satisfying and filling; I kind of just have to call it a stew.  It’s made in a pretty fascinating way, and the resulting layers of flavor (from the tomato paste and coconut milk to the minced ginger and toasted curry powder) are complicated but uniquely delicious.

My cabinets are currently emptied of all of their contents, which are spread before me on my kitchen table so that I can work cleverly before we move to use as much of what we have as I can.  (We aren’t allowed to ship dry goods.)  The original recipe for this soup (stew) called for red lentils and yellow split peas, but all I had were regular ol’ lentils (green, I think), pearl barley and many a variety of rice, so I went with it.  I’m almost 100% sure you could use any combo of legume and grain and still end up with a tasty result.  Enjoy.

Lentil + Barley Curry Stew

Lentil + Barley Curry Soup

Serves 4-6

1/3 cup pearl barley
1 cup lentils
7 cups water (but I used veggie stock, because I had it)
1 medium carrot, diced (but I would up this to at least 3)
2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons butter
8 green onions sliced
1/3 cup golden raisins (I omitted these because I didn’t have them and wasn’t going to buy anything that would be 100% gone when the recipe was over)
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt

Rinse and pick over the lentils and barley.  Place them, along with the water, in a large soup pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer, adding the carrot and 1/4 of the minced ginger.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small dry skillet over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is fragrant, but be careful with this because it will burn quickly. Set aside. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat, add half of the green onions, remaining ginger, and raisins (if using). Saute for two minutes stirring constantly, then add the tomato paste and saute for another two minutes more.

Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add the whole lot to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so (or until the barley is soft). The texture will thicken the longer you cook it (and the barley will make a thicker soup than the split peas); add more water to thin it, if you prefer, or simmer longer for a thicker consistency.

Sprinkle each bowl generously with the remaining green onions.  You could also garnish with sliced almonds and cilantro and serve over rice.

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