|Ben at the Quabbin Reservoir.|
|And Birdy. The reservoir is nearby, and is my favorite place to go at this time of year.|
Okay, one more holiday thing. It's that there's another games post here, where I discuss Carcassonne Wheel of Fortune and Dominion, both of which continue to be oft-played favorites around here (we even have the Dominion Prosperity expansion now. I know. Maybe alert me if the Dungeons and Dragons fair is coming to your town, and I'll meet you there!) And the other two games I wanted to mention were Agricola,
which is like somebody's acid-trip dream of Settlers of Catan on crack, and which we love immoderately, despite the fact that during a start-to-finish game you will complete 10 or 11 menstrual cycles. And, on a completely different note, Make Me a Cake,
which is like Settlers of Catan only if Settlers of Catan morphed into a puddle of melted vanilla ice cream. This game goes down smooth and easy, even with the littlest players, and the kids love it not because it challenges their strategic thinking (it doesn't) but because it's cake.
Okay. But the red lentil soup. I kind of forgot about this soup for a while, but then remembered it when we traveled to Montreal recently with some friends and had to get 13 people fed on a very tight budget. This soup, with some lovely garnishes of basmati rice and cilantro, was a hit with everyone. It's creamy from the coconut milk and bright with lime, and the texture is comfortingly porridgy. Lovely.
Red Lentil Soup with Carrots and Coconut
Active time: 20 minutes; total time 1 hour
This soup is a version of dal, which is a classic Indian lentil stew. It is deliciously fragrant, thanks to the coconut and spices, and the bright yellow turmeric and orange lentils give it a gorgeous color. Serve the lentils over rice, like a stew, or in bowls as soup.
3 tablespoons butter, divided use
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 cups red lentils, rinsed (you really do need red lentils for this, but they're quite readily available!)
2 bay leaves
6 cups water or chicken broth
1 15-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
2 teaspoons kosher salt (or half as much table salt; less if you're using broth)
Juice and zest of half a lime
1 teaspoon mustard seeds (optional—don’t worry about this part if it’s a pain)
Plain yogurt and cilantro leaves for serving.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and the vegetable oil in a soup pot over medium heat and sauté the onion, garlic, ginger, chile, and carrots until the onions are just coloring, around 5 minutes. Stir in the turmeric, lentils, bay leaves, and water or broth, and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until the lentils are soft--around 30 minutes.
Add the coconut milk, salt, and lime juice and zest, and simmer another five minutes. Heat the remaining butter in a small skillet and fry the mustard seeds until they are just popping, around 1 minute. Stir them into the soup, taste for salt and lime juice, and serve topped with plain yogurt and cilantro leaves.