Monday, November 28, 2011

red lentil soup

red lentil soup over basmati
Last year I made a delicious discovery at our local library, Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen. It is a love letter to vegetable soups and a terrific resource.  This particular soup, a mix of vegetables and red lentils, brings a wonderful aroma to my winter kitchen. I love to serve it over basmati rice (prepared in advance in my rice cooker) with some additional toppings. As with most recipes, I've tailored it a bit to things I stock in my kitchen.

This post is especially for Jean - who has been so enthusiastic and supportive of my family's cookbook blog.  She and her granddaughter are trying to increase their repertoire of vegan meals.  My version of the recipe is vegetarian and can easily be made vegan by substituting safflower oil for the butter.  I hope you'll make a bowl of this sunny soup this winter - it is satisfying and just makes you feel good.  When friends or family are under the weather, this is the recipe I reach for.

adapted from 'Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen'

2 T butter (can substitute safflower oil)
1 onion, diced
4 carrots
1-2 celery stalks
1 zucchini
3 T (1/3 of a bunch) cilantro stems (reserve leaves for garnish)
1 t kosher salt
2 t turmeric
3 t cumin
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 c red lentils, rinsed well
7 c water
2 bay leaves
1 pinch of red pepper flakes (if you like a little heat)
1 lime

dressing it up:
basmati rice
additional lime wedges
cilantro or chives
diced avocado

chop veggies roughly
the same size

1. Melt the butter in a soup pot.  Add the onion and saute over medium heat while you finish your chopping. Dice your carrot into small rounds.  Split the celery in half lengthwise then dice.  Quarter the zucchini lengthwise then dice. Mince the cilantro stems.  (Seems strange? Gives great flavor and they all but disappear into the soup.)

2. Add the carrots, celery, zucchini and cilantro stems to the pot.  Season with salt, turmeric and cumin - stir to coat.  Cook for 5 minutes or so, till the vegetables begin to soften.

3. Add the diced tomatoes, lentils, water.  Also, add the bay leaves and red pepper flakes if you choose.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, partially covered, until the lentils soften - approximately 20 minutes.  Remove the bay leaves, season with salt, pepper and the juice of one lime.  Be sure to taste - your palate will guide you!

the turmeric colors this soup a sunshine gold

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