Weather: 35 degrees, clear with stars twinkling
What I’m listening to: wind gusting

As we experienced our first light snowfall of the year this week, I find myself not even remotely prepared to let go of fall. In Alaska, it’s so impossibly brief, particularly for my love of fall food. Fall flavors are my favorite flavors of the year. As the autumnal colors began to show brightly on display outside the windows, the same colors have a way of appearing in our kitchens and on our plates. Golden leaves outside would translate to yellow-fleshed acorn squash or the skin of fresh, juicy pears. A carpet of red shrubs laying low to the ground would be reflected on our menus by way of plump cranberries, an abundance of crisp apple, or a spicy red curry. The brown soil dampened by fall rain would inspire the use of warm spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and clove or the savory earthiness of wild mushrooms. It’s all enough to make you want to throw on a scarf and kick up your feet by the wood stove with a nice book and a steaming cup of satisfying homemade soup. The snow can melt away and return another day. I’d like to cling to fall a bit longer.

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This hearty pot of red curry lentil and sweet potato soup captures so many of the flavors of fall that I love. The subtle sweetness of the sweet potatoes and coconut milk perfectly offset the heat from the red curry. The lentils thicken the soup and bring loads of healthy protein to the meal. A sprinkle of fresh cilantro brightens up the bowl and reminds us of the last remnants of summer’s green still hanging on outside the window.

Red Curry Lentil & Sweet Potato Soup

Adapted from From a Chef’s Kitchen.

Yields: 6 servings

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups lentils, preferably red
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5 ounce can coconut milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • juice of half a lime
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped, for serving

To a dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat, add the oil. Sauté the onions in the oil until softened, about two minutes. Add the garlic, then stir in the red curry paste, continuing to cook another one minute. Add the sweet potatoes, can of diced tomatoes, and lentils to the pan, stirring to combine. Season with salt. Pour the chicken into the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes or until the lentils and sweet potatoes are tender. Stir in the coconut milk and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro over each bowl.

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