Spicy Red Lentil Coconut Soup with Shrimp Dumplings

At first glance these eye-catching chile peppers look like red jalapeno. However, they have a different flavor and are less meaty than Jalapeno. Red Fresnos are great roasted and added to salsas. Try grilling them alongside your steaks or in kabobs.

When roasting these they should char, blister, and become soft. Try substituting these in your favorite chile recipes.

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2 tsp. fennel seeds
2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 tsp. coriander seeds
1/4 cup peanut oil
3 medium carrots, coarsely shredded
2 medium red onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1 medium leek, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
2 small fresh red Fresno chiles, seeded and minced
5 cups water
2-3/4 cups unsweetened coconut milk
6 kaffir lime leaves
3/4 cup red lentils
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


2 small garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup mint leaves
1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. Asian fish sauce, plus more for serving
1/2 tsp. Asian sesame oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro


Make the soup:

In a small skillet, toast the fennel, cumin and coriander seeds over moderate heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Let the spices cool, then ransfer to a spice grinder and finely grind them.

In a medium casserole, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the carrots, onions, leek, garlic, ginger and chile and cook over moderately high heat until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the ground spices and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes longer. Add the water, coconut milk and lime leaves and bring to a boil. Stir in the lentils and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Make the dumplings:

In a food processor, combine the garlic, cilantro and mint and pulse until finely chopped. Add the shrimp and pulse until coarsely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the cornstarch, 1 Tbsp. of fish sauce and the sesame oil. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Using slightly moistened hands, roll teaspoons of the shrimp mixture into balls and arrange on a plastic wrap-lined plate.

Add the shrimp dumplings and the 2 tsp. of fish sauce to the soup and simmer just until the dumplings are slightly pink and cooked, about 5 minutes. Remove the lime leaves. Stir in the lime juice and cilantro and serve, passing the fish sauce at the table.

Recipe by Peter Gordon, from the January 2002 issue of Food and Wine Magazine.