Curried Lentil Sweet Potato Stew with Lemon & Cilantro

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Yield: 6-8 servings (about 2 quarts)       

1 Tbsp  Olive oil
1 small  Onion (8oz), small dice
2 stalks Celery, small dice
1 each  Carrot, small dice
1 each  Japanese eggplant, small dice
2 cloves Garlic
1 each  Sweet potato (1lb), small dice
1 (generous) tsp Curry powder (we prefer “Sun” brand)
To taste Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups  Vegetable broth
3/4 cup  Red lentils (available in bulk at Whole Foods or Sprouts)
1 each  Bay leaf
1 Tbsp  Fresh thyme
2 Tbsp  Lemon juice (reserve the zest)
1 cup  Plain yogurt
2 tsp  Lemon zest
2 cups  Spinach, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp  Cilantro leaves
¼ cup  Cashews, toasted and roughly chopped

1. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the oil, onion, celery, carrot and eggplant; sauté a few minutes until they begin to soften. Add the garlic, sweet potato and curry powder. Sauté a few minutes longer to cook the garlic and toast the spice. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Add the broth to the soup pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat, add the lentils and bay leaf; cover and simmer ten minutes until lentils are tender. Add thyme and lemon juice. Simmer a few minutes until the flavors meld; check seasoning.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt and lemon zest.

4. Place a 1/3 cup or so of the spinach in the bottom of a serving bowl. Ladle the hot stew over and garnish with a dollop of lemon yogurt, cilantro leaves and toasted cashews.