Maria’s Curried Red Lentils and Greens Soup

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2 + 1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, use less if you want less spice
2 cups, about 1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
Sweet potato, peeled and diced, optional
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 cups red lentils, rinsed
28 ounce can diced tomatoes, I prefer these taste-test award winning organic bpa free tomatoes
6 cups of water (decrease to 5 cup if you prefer it thicker like a stew. If adding the sweet potato use 6 cups)
1 can coconut milk, low fat or reduced fat
3 packed cups of Swiss chard or kale, stems removed, leaves chopped or spinach, chopped
1 teaspoon of salt or to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
If desired, finely chopped cilantro to garnish

Put the lentils in a colander under running water and check them for any debris and make sure they’re rinsed and clean.

Grind the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, turmeric and cayenne pepper together with a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder.

In a soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons oil on medium heat. Add the ground spice mixture to the oil and fry for about 1 minute, mixing continuously with a spoon. They will become very fragrant. Be sure not to burn.

Add the onions, carrots, garlic, and ginger and sweet potato if using. Cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add another tablespoon of oil if the bottom of the pot gets dry.

Add the lentils, tomatoes, water, salt and fresh pepper as well. Cover, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer for about 20 minutes. The time will depend. The easiest way is to check on your lentils as you cook them. Cooking times vary depending on how large the pan and simply the size of lentils themselves. Simply have a taste and judge the cooking time accordingly

Add the coconut milk, the Swiss chard, kale or spinach and simmer for another 5 minutes or so.

Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Serve with freshly chopped cilantro, if desired  Serves 6.

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