Thursday, December 23, 2010

Red Lentil Soup

Another soup recipe! I'm logging it here so I don't forget because it was a big hit. I really liked this soup and it was pretty easy. I know it looks like it has a lot of ingredients, but it really comes together rather quickly. Mr. Heart even liked it and he was a bit wary when I initially proposed the meal. Be generous with the salt and liberally squeeze fresh lemon juice in right before eating. It really adds something that takes this soup to the next level. I used chicken stock, but this could easily be vegetarian.

Red Lentil Soup
inspired by 101 Cookbooks and Orangette
Serves 4 as a main course

1 TBS olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
3 small shallots
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground coriander (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp cumin (ditto on taste)

1 1/3 cup of red lentils, sorted and rinsed
1/2 cup brown rice, sorted and rinsed
6 cups chicken stock, vegetable broth, or water (I used half chicken stock, half water)
sea salt to taste (I probably used one or two teaspoons)

1 heaping tsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp cornstarch
1 TBS water

1 lemon, cut into wedges

1) In a heavy bottom soup pot, heat initial TBS of oil until shimmering. Add onion, shallots, and red pepper flakes. Sauté over medium heat until they begin to soften and brown, about 4 minutes. Add 1/2 tsps of coriander and cumin and mix until the onions are coated. Cook another minute or so until fragrant.
2) Mix together garlic, tomato paste, and remaining tsps of coriander and cumin in a small bowl. Set aside. Mix together cornstarch and water in another small bowl until incorporated. Set aside.
2) Add stock/water, lentils, and rice to pot. Season lightly with salt. Heat until the soup is just about to boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until rice is tender. Lentils will break down and turn into a delicious mess.
3) Heat remaining tsp of oil in a small pan. Once warm, add garlic mixture to pan, being careful to keep the heat low so as not to burn the garlic. Let the garlic and spices sizzle for 30 seconds - 1 minute until they take on a little color and become fragrant.
4) Add warm garlic mixture and cornstarch slurry to soup and stir to blend. Cook the soup uncovered for another 10 minutes. Season liberally with salt to taste.
5) Serve with lemon wedges. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over soup as you eat it. Goes great with pita :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sweet Potato Soup

Hello, I am alive despite the fact that I haven't posted in over a year. I am sorry to say that other things in my life have taken precedence. Like travel, job changes, books, classes, all sorts of things. That isn't to say that I haven't been cooking and even sometimes taking photos of the things I cook. It just means that when it comes to sitting down and trying to remember everything... I'm sorry dear readers, I know I have neglected you.

So here we go: sweet potato soup! And good timing for it too as we dive right into fall here in New England. The red maple across the street is a brilliant, fiery red and the streets are a mosaic of wet, fallen leaves in orange and gold. This is my favorite time of year because everything flames out in beautiful color and there is a certain smell to air, kind of like leaves and cinnamon and wood fires and pears.

Sweet potato soup. In making this I was trying to channel the incredible sweet potato soup I had a couple of years ago at Cafe Atlantico in Washington D.C. It had real depth to it, with all sorts of spices coming through, a bit of heat, a bit of sweetness, and it was topped by this incredible maple foam that tasted like... well, marshmellow. Let's just say I had very high expectations.

And while this soup is good, delicious even, it's no Cafe Atlantico Sweet Potato Soup. But that's ok. I think maybe using stock next time would add a richness, and I think one should definitely be more generous with the spices than I was. Still, it was filling and tasty and perfect for a cool October meal with Sister Heart.

Picture to come!

Sweet Potato Soup
Serves 4

1 very large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
1/2 white onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 small head of garlic, roasted and removed from skins
1 quart (4 cups) water or stock
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon (I would add more next time)
1/4 tsp chili pepper (I would add more next time)
dash of allspice (may more of this? also cloves?)
dash of nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 TBS butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
sour cream (to garnish)

1) Heat butter in 4 qt sauce pan over medium-low heat. Once frothy, add onions, carrots, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and chili pepper. Saute until browning and softened, about 10 minutes.
2) Add sweet potato and toss until the potato is coated. Add more butter if pan is looking dry. Cover the pot and allow to cook for 5 - 8 minutes, stirring often until potato has begun to soften.
3) Add water, sugar, and maple syrup to the pot. Bring to a gentle boil, then cover and lower to a simmer. Simmer covered for 20 - 25 minutes until potatoes are very soft, stirring occaisonally.
4) Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Continue to cook the soup on low, uncovered until desired consistency is reached (I like mine thicker so I let it cook for another 15 -20 minutes). Add salt to taste.
5) Remove soup from heat. Stir in cream. Ladle into bowls and top with sour cream.