Happy New Year, we come with soup....
Its New Year's day and I find myself in the kitchen making soup, reflecting on the last 12 months, considering the next.
It's been a busy year, full of changes and challenges. A little more insane, a little more chaos, a little more fun. More hockey. More coffee. More miles. More dog walks.
Soup is what I do when I need a reset foodwise. It feels like, no.... I should say we have been eating non-stop for the last two weeks. Holiday meals, parties, grabbing food at the mall while we finish our shopping. In truth I haven't spent much time in the kitchen just cooking. I've finished a few deserts. Made an app or two to take to a party. I have made many cups of coffee. But just cooking to eat food? making something nourishing? not so much. We spent 3 days in hockey arenas.. yes that is arenas . I have never consumed nor allowed to be consumed so many french fries.
I enjoy the holidays. I love having time off to spend with family and friends. I even read a book or two. We started a great big jigsaw puzzle. But the lack of schedule gets to me after a while. I sorta like predictability. And soup is where I turn. Every time.
This lentil soup. It's simple. Quick enough to make on busy weeknight. And low in calories and fat. This is clean food. Reset food.
And f your fridge is anything like mine right now (packed with leftover Thai take out from New Year's Eve, remnants of the Christmas cookie tray and half a bag of carrots), you probably have what you need on hand. This soup is flexible. I like mine spicy with a healthy dose of fresh herbs at the end. But you can change the spices to your tastes and to what you have on hand. I highly recommend fresh herbs if you have them. Even some fresh sliced green onions stirred in at the end will brighten the flavours. Or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. But hey, if the stores are closed and your fridge is lacking anything green, just go with it.
These two items are my current go-tos. The Chilli Pepper paste is the just the perfect blend of garlic and hot chillis. If you have a chilli paste, use that. If not, a half teaspoon of dried chili flakes works just as well. Don't like heat, skip it completely. The roasted cumin spice blend I find works just about anywhere cumin is called for in a recipe. Sub in straight up ground cumin for the mix in this recipe. Or even use your favourite curry powder. The soup is flexible.
Usually I make this particular version of lentil soup with red lentils. I was a little bit short today, so I made up the required amount with black beluga lentils. Red lentils cook the fastest and make this soup something you could easily pull off in under 30 minutes. The beluga lentils need a bit more cooking time say another 5-10 minutes. (Brown and green lentils - the common ones, are a bit bigger than the tiny black beluga lentils and may take even longer). You could use any kind of lentil you have hanging around the kitchen you will just have to adjust the cooking time accordingly. And be warned the colour of your soup will be different, but it will still taste good. Red lentils cook down to nothing, black, green and brown lentils will stay whole. I this version I kind of like the way the few black lentils float around and add a bit of contrast to the warm tones of the carrots and peppers.
Lentil Soup with Carrots and Coriander
- 1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
- 1/2 lb of red lentils about 1-1/2 cups
- 5 cups water or stock I used 1 vegetable based bouillon cube and water
- 2 shallots finely diced of about half of a medium onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon roasted cumin and mint seasoning mix or equivalent ground cumin, or curry powder
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli paste
- 3 large carrots quartered and sliced thin
- 1 sweet pepper yellow, red or orange
- 1/4 cup chopped and packed fresh cilantro also known as fresh coriander
- 2 tablespoons fresh mind leaved thinly sliced
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large sauce pan over high heat, heat oil. If using a bouillon cube, I throw it into the oil and let it soften and toast with the oil heats up. Not necessary but it seems to melt better this way.
- Add lentils and liquid. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam that rises to the top. Reduce heat to low.
- Add shallots, garlic, spices, carrots and peppers. Stir into the soup and simmer until lentils are tender about 20 minutes. (If using black, brown or green lentils you will need to cook longer than if using red lentils). Add additional water if you think the soup has gotten too thick.
- When the lentils are soft and tender, stir in fresh herbs. Check of seasonings. Serve.
- Keeps refrigerated for several days. This soup freezes nicely.