Oothu Estate and Tea and Chi’s Vegan Coconut Lentil Soup

Posted on January 14 2010


Let me start off by saying I’m not a vegan. If I had to name my eating habits I’d be forced to acknowledge that the only category I might fit in is “Food Snob”. I love food, cooking, looking, inhaling, consuming it but my youngest daughter will confirm if we are on the road I’ll pretty much starve before I eat fast food. My need to meat is very limited and I hardly ever eat anything processed.  My approach to vegan and vegetarian food is that it is another, potentially good thing to eat. Removing the animal products from a recipe and replacing them with things processed to look/taste/feel like the original is not in my repertoire.

Now that’s out of the way… I cook quite a bit of vegetarian and vegan food because I like it and because I feel that for health reasons, environmental reasons and socioeconomic reasons most of us would benefit from a less meat-heavy diet. Many of the Tea and Chi customers don’t know and don’t care if a soup is vegan or not and if they find out they always seem surprised. This particular one is a store favourite, it’s easy to make and is rich and comforting. As promised, here is the recipe.

Tea and Chi’s Coconut and Red Lentil Soup

1 large onion cut in slivers

5 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp minced ginger

2 lbs red lentils

2 cans good quality thick coconut milk

Juice of 1 lime

Salt to taste

In a big, heavy bottomed pot caramelize onion in olive oil, add cloves and spices and sauté for 3 minutes. Add lentils and enough water to cover by 3-4 inches. Simmer for 35 minutes, stirring frequently. If it gets too thick add a bit of water. Add coconut milk, lime juice and salt to taste. Reheat but don’t boil. Thin with more water if needed.

The Oothu tea garden is located in the isolated Ghat mountain range in South India. It is the one of the largest and oldest organic/biodynamic tea estates in the world. Oothu was established in 1965 adopted sustainable tea production practices in the 70’s and has been certified organic since 1992. The rainforests that surround Oothu boast tigers and the endangered lion tailed macaques.

Teas from the Oothu estate are certified 100% organic, biodynamic and fair trade. The estate produces orthodox black, CTC black and orthodox green teas. We currently only stock  an Organic FOP Oothu black tea that has been a staple in the store. After tasting it again I found it to be full bodied, with a coppery red liquor, low astringency, smooth and well rounded. The leaf is smallish with a mild, pleasant aroma. A splash of milk makes this a great, comforting, any-time tea.


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