Grant and I decided to start a monthly community meal of sorts. We talked it up among some of our “food-minded” friends, who were all very supportive. We didn’t want to limit it to food-related issues though. We pictured people coming together to discuss all sorts of ways that they are seeing and/or helping to give us glimpses of the Kingdom. One of our friends dubbed it the “Kingdom Dinner,” and our first one was last night. We can’t wait for many more.

I’ve been wanting to share more of our weekly cooking adventures somewhere because I often get asked what/how we cook on a regular basis. I love to research just about anything, but especially new recipes. I think I forget that not everyone enjoys doing that, so I talk about CSAs, the benefits of eating real, seasonal food, the consequences of the corporate food industry, etc., but that isn’t really giving anyone anything practically that they can DO with the knowledge. I got into gardening at first because I loooove food, and I think the only way back to a more sustainable agriculture is to show people how enjoyable and worthwhile it is to cook well for yourself and your family…so I’m going to start trying to profile more of our cooking here at the Grace Garden blog. If you’re just here for the gardening tips, that’s great – just ignore the food posts! 🙂

I thought I would share our menu for our first Kingdom dinner this evening to start things off:

Don’t let this picture deter you – it’s hard to make lentil soup look pretty, especially when it’s 9 o’clock at night!

Coconut Lentil Soup
Adapted from Orangette

First of all, tell me you know about Orangette? Please?! If not, go check out her archives right now – you’ll be sucked right in. She met her husband through her blog, she’s part of this amazing project that sounds like my dream job, and it just seems like we’d be very good friends if we ever got to meet in real life. I’ll definitely visit her restaurant when Grant finally takes me to Seattle. Maybe she’ll be there and want to stop by the table for a chat?

This is an easy, tasty recipe, and it’s a staple at our house for Meatless Mondays. I adapted Molly’s version a bit to accommodate my cooking style (i.e. as no fuss as possible) and pantry. I also like mine a bit less brothy, so I cut back on the stock. I also usually double her version (already doubled below) to make plenty for leftovers throughout the week. It also freezes beautifully!

6 Tbsp. unsalted (or salted – I’ve used both, depending on what’s around) butter, divided
2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, presses
2 tsp tarragon (she uses thyme, but I like tarragon better – use whichever you like better)
3 tsp turmeric (aka my new favorite spice)
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock (directions for homemade stock to come soon!)
3 cups French green lentils (spring for the French lentils – they’re worth it for this soup)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
A pinch of nutmeg
Several grinds of black pepper
2.5 cups coconut milk
1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste

I love my Dutch oven for soups. They just seem to taste better in there. Warm 3 tablespoons of butter until melted, add the onions, and stir until translucent. Turn the heat down a bit, add the garlic, tarragon and turmeric. Cook until the onions are very soft. Add the stock and the lentils, bring to a simmer, and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and tender.

Molly’s version calls for clarified butter, but I’m not really sure how you skim the foamy white layer off of 3 tablespoons of melted butter, so I just melt the other 3 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan, and then add the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and pepper, and warm them, stirring continuously, until it smells very spicy – about two minutes.

Pour the butter and spices into the soup. Add the coconut milk and cook for about another ten minutes or so. Taste to see if you need to add more salt. And enjoy!

We also had some flax seed whole wheat bread, Julie’s spinach and grapefruit salad, Jenny’s pasta salad and Michelle’s peanut butter protein bars for dessert – be on the lookout for those recipes soon!