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Add the olive oil to a large pot. Dice the onion, mince the garlic, and grate or mince the ginger (I use a small-holed cheese grater). Sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger in the olive oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the onions are soft and transparent. While the onions, garlic, and ginger are sautéing, peel and slice the carrots.
Add the turmeric and red pepper to the pot and sauté for a minute more. Add the carrots to the pot, sauté for a minute more, then add the lentils and water. Place a lid on the pot, bring it up to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
Toast the coconut flakes while the soup simmers. Add the coconut flakes to a dry skillet and place it over medium-low heat. Stir continuously as the flakes heat until they are about 50% golden brown (1-3 minutes). Remove the flakes from the hot skillet immediately to stop the toasting process.
After 20 minutes the lentils should be soft and broken down. Stir the coconut milk into the soup. Use an immersion blender or carefully blend the warm soup in small batches until about half of the soup is puréed (or all of it if you want it completely smooth). Once blended, begin adding salt, 1/2 tsp at a time, until the soup is properly seasoned. I used 1.5 tsp or 1/2 Tbsp of salt. Also adjust the red pepper flakes, if desired.
To serve the soup, ladle about 1.5 cups into a bowl and top with 1/2 cup cooked rice, some fresh cilantro leaves, and a sprinkle of toasted coconut flakes.