Pancetta Curry Lentil Soup recipe is the perfect healthy comfort food, with red lentils, chicken stock, dried cherries, cilantro, coconut milk, and pancetta. Add Beer Bread for a quick, easy and delicious meal that will leave you satisfied and happy like a camper.
What is Curry?
Originally, Curry was and is a dish of meat, vegetables, etc., cooked in an Indian-style sauce of strong spices and turmeric and typically served with rice. Today, in North America, Curry “Powder” is known to be a spice, rather than a dish. Even in North America, Curry is not a spice, but instead, Curry is a mixture of many spices and chilis to replicate the combination of spices characteristic of Southern India.
Pre-mixed Curry Powder is available in most groceries and easy to find, but if you want a good curry, I might suggest you make your own. For the Pancetta Curry Lentil Soup, I chose the Curry Powder that is readily available throughout the land, no matter what part of the world you live.
I chose the prepared Curry Powder, available at most groceries, to make this recipe easy and quick.
For those who want to make your Curry from scratch, here is a Simple Curry Powder recipe.
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- METHOD: Lightly toast the seeds in a large skillet over medium-low heat, often shaking as not to burn. The seeds will be toasted when they give off an aroma, as the heat will release the natural oil in the seeds. Grind the seeds to a fine powder. (I use an electric coffee grinder that is reserved for spices only.) Add the chili and turmeric powder and combine all ingredients thoroughly. Store in a tightly lidded glass jar.
Attending Culinary School we were taught to make traditional Curry Powder and was expected to do so each time we made Curry – Ventilation is essential when making a traditional recipe as the spices and chilies can be very strong, especially when grinding as the dust will float through the room. Flavorful – yes. Spicy – yes. Tasty – yes. Ingredients in a traditional curry include coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, black peppercorns, dried chilies, turmeric powder, cinnamon powder, cardamom pods, and powdered ginger. (If you would like the amounts and the method, contact me for more information.)
The dried cherries and fresh Cilantro made this dish pop when added to the soup and added as the garnish.
A Good Cook Begins With Prep
Gather and prep the ingredients. Cube the Pancetta into a medium size. Finely Chop the garlic and ginger. Small chop for the carrots and onions. Whisk the coconut milk and loose chop the dried cherries.
Hint & Tip: When using coconut milk for any recipe, open the can by removing the entire lid with a can opener. Half of the contents will be solidified, and half will be liquid. Pour the can of coconut milk into a bowl and whisk to blend the liquid and the solidified milk together.
The most important part of cooking with Lentils
The most important part when cooking with Lentils is to place them in a fine sieve and rinse them under running water until the water runs clear. Do not skip this step.
The second most important part is to pick through the Lentils to remove any stones. In all my years, I have only found a few, but do not skip this step as no one wants to bite into stone. Just sayin’. If you would like to learn more about Lentils and their health benefits, click it to get it.
Cube The Pancetta
Pancetta is an Italian Bacon made from pork belly meat and is salt cured and spiced with black peppercorns. It has its own distinctive taste and adds a great depth of flavor when added to dishes. When using Pancetta in a dish, buy it by the inch or by the pound. I purchased a three-inch slice from the tube; the weight was around three-quarters of a pound.
Pancetta Curry Lentil Soup – Let’s Get To Cooking
Step One: Prep and rinse the lentils
Step Two: Render the Pancetta in a little EVOO, remove from the pan and set aside. The drippings and EVOO will be used to saute the vegetables.
Step Three: Saute the onions, ginger, carrots, and garlic until tender.
Step Four: Add the curry powder and cook about one minute, stirring continually.
Step Five: Add the chicken stock, the coconut milk, and the lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the lentils are tender, but not mushy. Remove from the heat.
(The pic above shows what lentils will look like when over-cooked. They will get a little mushy. When cooked properly, they will be tender but retain their shape and mine were perfect the second time I made this soup.)
Step Six: Remove 2 cups of the solid ingredients from the liquid by using a slotted spoon and set aside.
Step Seven: Puree the remaining soup with an immersion blender or a stand blender. Add the pureed soup back to the pan along with the set-aside soup ingredients, the cherries, and the cilantro. Heat through and taste for seasoning. Salt, mostly likely, will not be needed for this recipe as the Pancetta is cured in salt.
IMPORTANT Hint and Tip: If using a stand blender to puree anything hot, never put the middle handle on the lid, but instead leave the opening clear, but cover with a clean kitchen towel. In so doing, the steam will escape, and you will avoid an explosion. Also, never fill the blender full of hot liquid. I suggest, filling it 1/3 full, puree and empty before moving on to the next batch.
Step Eight: Serve and garnish with a tablespoon, or so, of the remaining coconut milk, a couple of teaspoons of chopped dried cherries and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.
Four Ingredient Beer Bread
My mother made this for my dad quite a bit, as this was one of his favorite quick bread recipes.
Mix Self-Rising Flour and Sugar, a can of beer and half the melted butter. Pour the batter into a buttered bread pan and pour the remaining melted butter over the batter. Bake!
FOUR INGREDIENT BEER BREAD
Yield 1 loaf
Delicious Beer Bread takes minutes to make and great as a side for soups of all kinds.
- 3 cups, plus 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon, self-rising flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 can of beer
- ½ cup melted butter, divided in half
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Mix the flour and the sugar. Pour in the beer and ¼ cup melted butter. Stir lightly to mix. Pour the batter into a buttered bread pan and pour the remaining melted butter over the top. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle of the bread is clean when removed. Cool for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool for an additional 10 minutes before serving.
Pin and FOLLOW
PANCETTA CURRY LENTIL SOUP
Pancetta Curry Lentil Soup recipe is the perfect healthy comfort food, with red lentils, chicken stock, dried cherries, cilantro, coconut milk, and pancetta. Add Beer Bread for a quick, easy and delicious meal.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ lb. Pancetta, casing removed, cubed, approx ½" x ½"
- 1-2" piece of fresh ginger, peeled, fine chop
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled, fine chop
- ½ yellow onion, peeled, small chop
- 4 carrots, peeled, small chop
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 can unsweetened coconut milk, whisked, ¾ cup for the soup with the remaining for garnish
- 4 cups chicken stock, unsalted
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed under running water until the water runs clear and picked for stones
- 2 small bags dried cherries, ⅔ cup dried cherries, loose chop for the soup, remaining for garnish
- 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, small chop, more for garnish
- Begin by prepping all ingredients as listed above.
- Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan, over medium heat.
- Add cubed pancetta and saute to render out the visible fat. Remove from the pan, with a slotted spoon, and set aside, keeping the drippings and olive in the saucepan.
- Saute the ginger, carrots, onions, and garlic in the saucepan until tender, with a nice bite.
- Add the curry powder and saute 1 minute longer, stirring consistently.
- Add ¾ cup coconut milk, the chicken stock, and the rendered pancetta. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, with a lid, for 8 to 10 minutes. Stirring occasionally. Check for doneness by taste.
- Remove from the heat and remove 2 cups of the solid ingredients from the soup, sit aside.
- Puree the remaining soup with an immersion blender or a counter blender.
- Add the solid ingredients to the pureed soup, ⅔ cup of the dried cherries and 3 tablespoons of the cilantro. Heat through over medium-low heat.
- Serve in a bowl and garnish with 1 or 2 tablespoons coconut milk, 1 tablespoon dried cherries and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.
IMPORTANT Hint and Tip: If using a stand blender to puree anything hot, never put the middle handle on the lid, but instead leave the opening clear, but cover with a clean kitchen towel. In so doing, the steam will escape, and you will avoid an explosion. Also, never fill the blender full of hot liquid. I suggest, filling it ⅓ full, puree and empty before moving on to the next batch.