Sunday, January 13, 2008

Lentils with a Twist


Now Playing :: Catpower - Metal Heart (cover version)

We are expecting a winter storm tonight so I decided to settle in and make some soups for the week. I made the standard favorite I have posted about before, Roasted Tomato and Garlic and I decided to try a recipe I saw in the Dining section of the NYT, Red Lentil with Lemon. I omitted the cumin and the cilantro from the recipe which I think would have made it a pretty different tasting version of lentil soup but I am not a big fan of either of those ingredients so I decided to fore go. I also used fat free chicken broth and doubled the recipe, freezing half of it. The soup turned out really delicious, the cayenne and lemon addition to a typical lentil soup made a for a more layered flavor.

Recipe: Red Lentil Soup With Lemon

3 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Pinch of ground chili powder or cayenne, more to taste

1 quart chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup red lentils

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

Juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro.

1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.

2. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chili powder or cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.

3. Add broth, 2 cups water, lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.

4. Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée half the soup then add it back to pot. Soup should be somewhat chunky.

5. Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder if desired.

1 comment:

smithstreetjim said...

So I made this soup on Sunday too...It was the bomb! I've had tons of lentil dishes in my life...every Wednesday was Lentil Night growing up...I place lentil soups in the reliably healthy and tasty category...not, however, something you crave and that gets your mouth watering...(Zaytoon's lentil soup is the exception maybe)

This recipe however places lentil soup in the crave categroy..Why?
1. The red lentils...these little guys (you can get them in the Goya section) are smaller and less "legumy" than their brown, green, and yellow cousins. The end result is not only do they cook a lot faster, but the taste and texture is well, more subtle and understated than most lentil dishes...
2. Lemon juice, lemon juice, lemon juice - yes this recipe calls for just a tad bit of fresh lemon juice - half a lemon's worth for the whole recipe - but it is immediately noticeable, and along with the other spices in the soup gives it so much flavor layering that you'll think you're eating some kind of vegetarian bisque...
3. Lastly - the spices, I contend, are all necessary. I'm so not a fan of cumin...but, like the imperfection in a painting, it seemed to really add something...it certainly wasn't noticeable as cumin, but the synergy with the other ingredients made it that much more complex tasting.

Lastly - this soup was damn easy to make - some chopped vegetables, some spices, and chicken stock and that's about it...the only experimentation i might do next time would be to add some more tomato paste (or actual tomatoes) and maybe even a dash of cream...I pureed the whole damn thing but I might go the opposite route next time and make it more brothy by adding more chicken stock and water...