Though I am trying to convince myself that I don't like winter, the sunny winter days that I have been enjoying lately are telling me otherwise. Vibrant blue sky during the day, piles of pure white snow glimmering in the sunlight, frosty tree tops, starry sky in the night - it is all so very beautiful. After the darkness of the past month or two, I am soaking up every moment of light and cherishing the warmth of the sun on my cheeks. Though my nose still gets bright red and my fingers frozen numb whenever I am outside, the days are finally getting longer and lightness is once again taking its place.
It is cold, though. Very much so. The past Saturday was the coldest this winter, the temperatures around -10F here. It isn't quite as bad anymore but there are days when the cold seems to be set in my bones. Those days, I'll take all the warmth I can find, from many layers of clothes to bowls of soup and mugs of tea.
I have been making this stew for a couple years now, and it is a family favourite. This is the stick-to-your-ribs kind of stew; hearty yet healthy, and spicy just the right way. Though I love this thick stew, it could also easily be turned into a soup by adding more stock. Whichever way, this is a wonderful meal to power you through the cold days.
The last time I made this was last winter, a few days after Christmas. A snow storm was passing through Finland so I made a pot of this stew for dinner, to warm us up. Many households in the area had lost electricity because of the storm and we were practically waiting to lose ours. Just as I turned off the stove, the stew ready, the power went out. That evening, we ate our dinner by candlelight, then camped close together on the couch.
Cauliflower Red Lentil Stew
adapted from Food52
serves 6 to 8
1 1/2 cups red lentils, picked over
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 to 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 medium head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
+ plenty of fresh cilantro to serve
Measure the lentils into a bowl and cover with at least 2 inches of warm water; set aside.
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onion. When the onion starts to soften, add garlic, ginger, and spices; sauté for 1 minute. Pour the red lentils with the water into the pot and add the stock. Bring to a boil; turn down the heat to medium low. Add the sliced carrots and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes, stir in the cauliflower florets. Add more water, if needed. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The more you stir, the more the cauliflower florets are going to break down, though.
Salt to taste and serve with plenty of fresh cilantro.