Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lentil soup FTW

With my cast iron skillet skills very much a work in progress, it's comforting to know that I (usually) know how to get things right with my stock pot.  Lentil soup is one of the top 10 most comforting things in the universe – it's true, go look it up – so it's a great pleasure to be able to whip up a pot of this stuff on yet another cold day brought to you by Endless Winter. 

I try various recipes from time to time, but my favorite to date has been an Indian-style one poached from some newspaper.  (NYT?  Can't remember.)  It was good, but way too bland: "Indian-style," of course, usually means "take away all of the heat, take away the ghee, and throw in a little cinnamon and curry powder."  This recipe wasn't quite that bad out of the box, but I've been tinkering with it to goose up the flavor.  (As we all know, lentils often need a lot of goosing.) 

The one I made today for lunch was so good that I now regret that I couldn't have made a double batch.  I'll need some lead time on that, since part of the key seems to be using homemade chicken stock as a soup base.  My stockpot can only hold one chicken, and one chicken yields about 8 cups of stock, which is pretty much the quantity you need for every recipe.  But man, I'm glad I spent the time yesterday simmering up the stock.  The full key to greatness seems to be using my own stock instead of store-bought broth, and doubling most of the seasonings.

Try it!  Tell me what you think.  (NB: You will never, ever find a more umami low-sodium recipe.  It's not the lowest-fat recipe around, but I'm way warier about salt than fat, for my own health reasons.)

Curried lentil soup, Dr. Koshary-style

2 T. ghee
1 large onion, chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
4 hot chiles of choice, minced
Handfuls of fresh baby spinach leaves, if available
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 T. curry powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 bay leaves
1 pinch asafetida
1 1/2 C. red lentils, rinsed and drained
8 C. homemade chicken stock (or, if you must, reduced-sodium chicken broth)
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste — note that you should not require any salt!

1. Heat the ghee in a heavy stock pot over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Add garlic, chiles, and all dry spices, and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes longer.
3. Stir in lentils and stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until the lentils are tender, about 45 minutes.
4. Discard bay leaves.  Stir in cilantro and lime juice.

1 comment:

  1. Nom!

    I usually make French style lentils, where you stir in a big glug of balsamic vinegar. That really helps kick in the flavor.