A Late Fall Coconut Lentil Soup And A Visit To Dede’s Farm

Could it actually be December? It seems too hard to believe, it’s not just the unseasonably stunning sunny weather that flooded my last weekend in San Francisco, but also the fact that the year seems to have whizzed by faster than my mind could possibly comprehend. But yes it is.

All of last week there was a false early fall feeling in the air. The red, yellow, and orange that splash the Central Coast of California vineyards, had a disorienting way of making me think of October in New England. I spent a week driving the coast roads – to and from Soledad Mission, to the beach and walk along the sand dunes. I went for evening low tide walks with Anne and Beth and their dogs. I hiked the hills behind their house to gaze out over the valley so well described in East of Eden. I made a lovely coconut Lentil soup for friends.

After a long stunt of work and travel, my whirlwind slowed down and I got to sink into a little relaxation. My life feels a bit more like the later days of fall and early days of winter than the stunning sunshine would imply. I feel as though my leaves have changed colors and I am ready to hibernate for the winter. To take in the seeds of an unknown future for this next year 2012 and let the seed slumber beneath the warm soil while the snow piles up above ground. I am not ready for the reality of snow but my life feels ready this year for some slower living in front of fires, baking of warm and hearty meals, and the quiet contemplation that comes with in door recreation.

For now I am reveling in the sunshine knowing it won’t last forever. I am trying to capture the sunshine in my skin and if possible little bottles to open throughout the winter months. On my way back to San Francisco for a final weekend before heading East again, Anne and I stopped off at our friend Dede’s new farm in Pescadero. It was a bit of a surreal and fantastic little detour into the heart of an unexpected little world just off of Highway 1, and inland enough of the sea that one can hardly imagine it as you look out at the white capped waves crashing along the beach.

It almost seemed unbelievable in a hidden field surrounded by ancient redwoods. But there were 3 of the most adorable cabins, a few goats, chickens, the last of a fall harvest from a sustainable farm, some delicious raspberries, and a claw foot tub nestled into the base of a giant tree. I could hardly believe myself as our car was greeted by a raucous welcoming committee of dogs racing about us. We strolled the fields, saw the last of the falling apples in the remaining orchard, we picked greens to take home and make meals with. Kale chips baked two hours after picking from the field are pretty tasty. I imagined more time here. I pictured a little retreat and myself someday – cooking from what was harvested that day, milking a goat, and soaking in an outdoor hot bubble bath. But that would be those seeds of a future year. That would be the slumbering ideas for 2012 and not the early days of a sunny December.

Below is the Coconut Lentil soup recipe I made, it comes from 101 Cookbooks. It’s a lovely rich soup inspired by Indian dal; the colors perfectly match the outdoors I experienced last week – with yellow and red lentils simmered in a coconut bath spiced with fragrant toasted orange curry powder. The soup is not spicy but it has a flavor filled mouthful perfectly sweetened by yellow raisons. It’s not your usual lentil soup but it is one I will surely make again this winter to remind me that the colors will come back and that the cycle of seasons will continue.

I hope you are out enjoying the last of the sun and basking in the rays of the late season warmth.

~ Ramona

Coconut Red Lentil Soup from 101 Cookbooks

1 cup / 7 oz / 200g yellow split peas
1 cup 7 oz / 200g red split lentils (masoor dal)
7 cups / 1.6 liters water
1 medium carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 Tablespoons fresh peeled and minced ginger
2 Tablespoons curry powder
2 Tablespoons butter or ghee
8 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
1/3 cup / 1.5 oz / 45g golden raisins
1/3 / 80 ml cup tomato paste
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
one small handful cilantro, chopped

We also served it with a little dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream.

Give the split peas and lentils a good rinse – until they no longer put off murky water. Place them in an extra-large soup pot, cover with the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the carrot and 1/4 of the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the split peas are soft.

In the meantime, in a small dry skillet or saucepan over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is quite fragrant. Be careful though, you don’t want to burn the curry powder, just toast it. Set aside. Place the butter in a pan over medium heat; add half of the green onions, the remaining ginger, and raisins. Sauté for two minutes stirring constantly, then add the tomato paste and sauté for another minute or two more.

Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so. The texture should thicken up, but you can play around with the consistency if you like by adding more water, a bit at a time, if you like. Or simmer longer for a thicker consistency.

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12 2011

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  1. suzy #

    I can attest to how delicious this soup is-Ra cooked it at my house, very tasty.

    This is a beautiful blog, these pictures are gorgeous.


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