Monday, November 30, 2009

Red Lentil Warm-the-Soul Soup

December: short days and long cold nights…. If you can’t take off for a tropical island, then how cooking up a steamy, thick pot of red lentil soup? From a frugal standpoint, a batch of soup is not that much work and so much cheaper and resource efficient than buying canned or frozen single portion soups. A hearty vegetarian soup is also easier on the planet, especially since it utilizes lowly beans, lentils, and local root vegetables, creating a satisfying, nutritious meatless meal.

Here is my family’s favorite. The recipe is originally Gloria Kaufer Greene’s wonderful cookbook, The New Jewish Holiday Cookbook. I took her recipe and added veggie hot dogs and brown sugar. It is nearly a stew in consistency, though if you want it thinner, just add more water or stock. The tomato and red lentils combine to make this soup a rich rusty-orange, very welcome on a gray day. Another virtue of red lentils is that they cook in just 40 minutes or so, making the recipe energy and time efficient. Garnish with a little green, and it’s photo worthy. It freezes well. A clever approach it to freeze the soup in small portions and take them out for a lunch or grab ‘em to go if you have a microwave at work or school.

Red Lentil Soup – serves 6-8, plus plenty of leftovers

1 to 2 T olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2-3 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

2 carrots, peeled and diced (I microwave carrots first, so they are softer and easier

to chop)

5 to 6 cups stock (for vegetarian soups, Israeli powdered broth works well*)

2 cups red lentils

1 large (14-16 oz) can chopped tomatoes, including juice (run through the food processor

for 30 seconds or so, to puree)

½ t ground cumin

¼ t ground coriander

1 T lemon juice

1 T brown sugar

4 veggie hot dogs, diced

Salt and pepper to taste

Parsley, minced, for garnish

In 6 or 8 quart soup pot, sauté the onions, celery and garlic until soft. Add the carrots, and stir a minute longer. Add the broth, lentils, tomatoes, cumin, coriander, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil; then reduce the heat and simmer the soup, covered, about 40 minutes. Add the brown sugar and diced veggie hotdogs, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook a few more minutes. Garnish with minced parsley.

*Powdered bouillon is very high in sodium so go lightly on the salt.

Guaranteed to lift your winter mood, along with leafing through gardening catalogues….

Photo from Cooking the Hard Way

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