Tasty Vegan Lentil Soup: for Patrick
Like many of you, I have been busy dreaming about all of the delicious food I am going to be cooking, sharing, and most definitely enjoying this coming Thursday. But in the midst of all of this pre-Thanksgiving-recipe-reading & Pinterist Board-Making, I still have to eat. And I don't know about you, but one thing I love to come home to on a chilly November day is a nice warm and flavorful homemade soup.
Earlier this week I was having some fun conversing on Twitter and Patrick asked me if I happened to have a good recipe for a lentil soup. Hence the subject of today's post (and tonight's dinner!) is my very own original recipe for my favorite homemade lentil soup.
Now before I get started, I should clarify that this recipe actually calls for 2 cups of dried lentils. Lentils are a staple for me, so imagine my surprise when I opened up my pantry and discovered I was running low and had only about a cup left. But one thing you learn early on when cooking is that you have to remain flexible, so knowing I would be about a cup short, I sub'd in a can of rinsed organic red beans, and this proved to be pretty tasty.
The moral of the story is: Never be afraid to experiment and modify your plans if you find you are lacking an ingredient. Sometimes these modifications can lead you to other new and tasty discoveries!
Clarissa's Lentil Soup
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped or diced
3 stalks of celery, chopped (including the leaves, chopped, if you have any. These have a lot of flavor.)
3 carrots, chopped
2 cups lentils (or sub in some red beans if you are short a cup like I was!)
1 teaspoon mustard seed
a splash of sherry (optional)
2 teaspoons coriander
Juice of one lemon (or about 1/4 cup)
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon berebere (The Market on Lakeway carries a good berebere if you are looking for some).
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of cumin
1 can diced tomatoes
4 cups veggie broth + 2 cups water (I used a 32 ounce carton Pacific Foods organic veggie broth--in too much of a hurry to make my own from scratch.)
1 cup chopped cilantro
chopped green onions (optional)
A big stainless steel stock pot with a lid works best for cooking this soup. Begin by sauteing the onions in olive oil with a pinch of salt in your stock pot over low to medium heat. Cover the pan with a lid and leave it for a minute or two while you assemble your other ingredients.
In a very small dish, mix together your lemon juice, 2 cloves of minced garlic, the berebere, chili powder, salt, and cumin. Your mixture should be a little thick. Set this aside.
Next add the carrots, 1 clove of minced garlic, celery leaves, and chopped celery to your onions that are cooking in the stock pot. Stir to mix and then cover the pot again. Let these ingredients cook down for a few more minutes until slightly softened. Then remove the lid, add a splash of sherry, and stir. Let the sherry cook off a bit, and if it looks like you need a little more moisture in your pan, throw in just a bit of veggie broth. Stir in the mustard seen and coriander and cook for a couple of minutes.
Normally if you cook lemon juice, it can make your food turn bitter, which is why you often see it added at the very end of recipes. However, if you make the chili powder garlic lemon juice mixture as I described above, you can actually make this part of the soup base without it turning bitter. Something about the combination of the ingredients makes it work really well together. So for your next step, you should add this mixture to your veggies and stir to coat them. Once everything has been mixed well, add your can of tomatoes, your lentils (and / or beans), followed by the vegetable broth and water.
Bring to a simmer, cover the pan, reduce heat and cook on very low until lentils are soft, about 40-45 minutes. Once the soup is cooked, stir in the cilantro and green onions, put the lid back on and let it sit for a few minutes, removed from heat. That's pretty much it. I hope you enjoy this soup as much as I do! Happy pre-Thanksgiving!