Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Saturday night comfort food: Lentil Soup

Hello Holiday Hobgoblins

It was another Saturday night, and while I was feeling a bit better than the week before, I think I am in the midst of some winter doldrums. I won't lie, I'm very much looking forward to the completion of today, December 21st- I always feel better when the shortest day of the year is behind us. It may be imperceptible at first, but at least you know in your head, that the days are starting to get longer again. In the meantime, of course, I am doing what I can (and I hope you are as well) to stave off the winter downs... a lot of my weapons are food.

So bring out the weapons! I took some time on Saturday (curled up in a nice blanket) to page through the latest Bon Appetit. There were lots of lovely recipes for Christmas day- lamb, ham, spam. No, just kidding about spam. I'm a sucker for a rhyme. There was ALSO a recipe for a lentil soup. Being a sucker for a soup, a legume, and a new recipe, it won't surprise you to hear that I was completely taken in- What's better than hot lentil soup on a cold Saturday night? ok ok, a lot of things. but bear with me, this is a food blog.

I took a look at this recipe, and realized I had just about everything I needed for it in the kitchen, except for the "special" french lentils. It was Saturday. I decided to brave Fairway. I found the special lentils. I was good to go.

You can find the Bon Apetit recipe here: Lentil Soup Recipe!

Here's the fun I had with it!

I chopped a large onion, and tried to (more) finely chop a carrot. In retrospect, I didn't chop the carrot enough. I sometimes have trouble with the line between the fine chop and the mince, it's something I am working on. I heated a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium soup pot, and added the onion and carrot. About a 2 minutes into the onion and carrot cooking, I added a rib of celery that I had also chopped (I admit, I don't generally feel that a soup is complete if it doesn't have celery). A couple of minutes later, once the onions were transluscent, I added 3 cloves of chopped garlic. Once these aromatics are nice and soft (5 or so more minutes) add a couple of tablespoons of curry powder (at least 2, more if you feel like it) and once it's all nicely mixed together, add a cup of the French green lentils (Aren't they pretty? I found them in the bulk section of the organic section of Fairway) and 2 cups of water. Add some salt and pepper, turn the heat up to bring it up to a boil, then turn the flame down to medium and let the pot simmer until the lentils are tender, it should be about 30 minutes.
While the lentils are simmering, take, drain and rinse a can of chickpeas. Add them, two tablespoons of lemon, a crushed clove of garlic (instead of chopped), and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a food processor to create a kind of "chick pea puree". I have to admit, I found this a little distracting. I was all- hummus? am I making a version of hummus? I ended up adding about another teaspoon of lemon juice in order to loosen the "chick pea puree" up a bit. Please keep in mind that I am trying a new recipe here, so I proceeded with a bit of caution, hence the added skepticism around "chick pea puree".

Once the lentils were tender, I added the "chick pea puree" and 2 tablespoons of butter to the lentils. It needed to be stirred to ensure everything was mixed together. I added a little more curry powder as well as some more salt and pepper, and a little water to loosen the soup up a bit. It was ready! I chopped a bit of a scallion for garnish, and sat down to eat. It was seriously delicious. I was nervous trying a new recipe, but it's such a straightforward recipe, AND when they give you the "while this is cooking" tip to put together the chick pea puree, you really do have time to execute other parts of the recipe. I really hate it when a recipe gives you like 5 minutes to prep a major part of the recipe. just one of my pet peeves.

So another Saturday night and i've got a good dinner (i admit it, in my head I'm singing the Cat Stevens song).

happy cooking!

ps- Got word from my mother, that the bacala has been purchased and is soaking. Seriously, DATES fans- bacala is a lovely fish, and you don't have to worry about it going bad, you just have to soak it (for a while, maybe a week)!

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