spiced red lentil soup with lemon

I’m a big fan of the lentil – healthy, filling, packed with protein, full of iron and budget-friendly.  I’m also a big fan of soup.  It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that I love lentils in soup!  Not to disparage beans, which I also love, but you can whip together a soup containing lentils in a matter of an hour, or so.  Beans require forethought…something I don’t always exercise.

Friday night the kiddo had gymnastics until 5 p.m., which doesn’t leave a lot of time to get home and start cooking.  So earlier in the day I threw this soup together on a whim after finding the recipe on Twitter.  Of course the lentils caught my attention first, but we’re heavy into citrus season in these parts and lemons are plentiful.  Also, the list of ingredients was really short and all stock pantry items so there was no need for a last-minute scramble to the grocery store for obscure items.

The soup goes together really fast, so to enhance the flavors of the spices they’re dry-fried ahead of time.  This method gives them a fuller, headier flavor I don’t think you would experience if you stirred them in straight for the jar.  The citrus is fresh and crisp, and a nice compliment to the warm, spiciness of cumin and coriander.  I served this with some chopped, fresh cilantro from our garden and it was absolutely delicious.  For a recipe tossed together on a whim, it turned out to be delightfully pleasing and I’ll definitely be making it, again, in my regular rotation of meatless meals.  Enjoy!

2014-02-07

Spiced Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 c low-sodium, organic chicken stock
  • 1 1/4 c yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 c Red Lentils, rinsed and picked through
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • chopped fresh parsley or cilantro (optional)

Directions:

  1. Rinse and drain lentils; set aside.
  2. Heat heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add oil and swirl to coat, reducing heat to medium.  Toss in onion and stir frequently for about 3 minutes.  Add garlic and continue cooking for another 3 minutes, or so, stirring frequently.
  3. Add lentils and cook for 2 minutes more, until well combined with onion and garlic, then stir in chicken stock.  Bring liquid to a boil then reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are softened.
  4. While the lentils are cooking, heat a non-stick frying pan over high heat.  Place the cumin and coriander into the pan and dry-fry for 2 minutes.  Do not let the spices scorch.  Add to soup mixture along with juice of one whole lemon.  Stir together and let simmer for another 5 minutes.
  5. Transfer to serving bowls, salt and pepper to taste, and top with chopped fresh cilantro or parsley (optional).

spicedredlentilsoup©zouptonuts

***Cook’s Notes:  Similar recipes have you remove and puree half the soup, then return it to the pot.  This is obviously a textural issue.  I didn’t do that.  Honestly, I liked the texture of the softened, whole lentils.  It gave the soup a more rustic, heartier quality.  Blend or don’t blend, that’s up to you.  Also, although this is photographed with parsley, I served it with chopped cilantro, which I much prefer.  It was excellent.  Again, it’s a matter of preference.  You can easily make this soup vegetarian/vegan by choosing vegetable stock over the chicken.  I’m a proud omnivore and much prefer the depth of flavor in a chicken stock.  Choose low-sodium, organic stock if you can.

Advertisements

beef and lentil sloppy joes

First off, I’m going to apologize for posting two sandwich recipes in a row.  Generally, I like a little more variety in my rotation than that.  But these just…happened.  And they were too good not to share.

Second, this recipe sort of just happened after a conversation with the husband about buns, and how bad buns can spoil the whole….sandwich experience.  (You see now why my mom always liked to call them rolls).  Anyway, in a rush through Target a couple of weeks ago, I picked up a package of their Market Pantry brand hamburg buns.  Wow!  What a huge mistake.  If ever there were Worst Buns Ever competition, that’d be the winning bun!  They were flimsy, flavorless, flaccid, and forgettable.  Not that the bun (roll – sorry, Mom) needs to knock your socks off.  But to hold up to sandwich fixin’s with any sort of juicy, gravy, or sauce, well…flimsy, flavorless and flaccid won’t cut it.

Not that this post is about buns.  Ahem…rolls.  Just saying, if you make these, select a better quality bun.  Oh, and a skim coat of butter and a little time under the broiler doesn’t hurt, either.

So, on to the real reason for this recipe:  it just sounded good.  My husband had his cholesterol checked a while back and, despite my predominantly healthy cooking choices, it was still elevated.  With exercise and supplements, he’s been able to get it in to a healthier range, but it made me ever more mindful of how food choices (especially if you’re pre-disposed to high cholesterol) are so very important.

What attracted me to this recipe in the first place was the lentils.  They’re a super source of protein, inexpensive to purchase, easy to cook, and provide a whole host of health benefits.  You can read more about lentils here at Whole Living and Alive, but if you’re not including more lentils in your diet, you really should give them a try.  Adding them to Sloppy Joes is just an act of pure genius!  The original recipe actually used lentils as a replacement for the beef, but I followed the adapted recipe, then made a minor change of my own to adjust the seasoning for my sometimes picky eater.   After having tried them (they were delicious), I think completely replacing the beef with lentils would be a perfectly acceptable way to go for a truly meatless dish.

As you can see, my little Sous Chef was helping me cook dinner that evening.  We only had one minor disaster!!  Yikes!  Thankfully, the tomato sauce was right out of the can and wasn’t hot when it sloshed over the edge of the pan.  We decided that one might have gotten us downgraded on Worst Cooks in America!!  The end product, though, was really good.  Lots of flavor, even without the chili powder, and great texture.  Next time I might actually try them without the beef.  Enjoy!

2013-05-03

DSC_6104

Beef and Lentil Sloppy Joes (recipe adapted from One Ordinary Day)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked green lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • ½ lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder (I left this out completely, but 3 Tbsp is just way too much chili powder: adjust according to taste)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 c tomato paste
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar or maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • burger buns or sandwich rolls

Directions:

  • Place lentils in a sauce pot with the 4 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and and simmer for 20 minutes or until lentils are soft.  Drain and set aside.
  • When the lentils are about halfway cooked, heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Saute ground beef until crumbled but not fully cooked through.  Add the onion and saute until beef is no longer pink. Add garlic and saute about one minute.  Add the cooked lentils, oregano, and salt and mix.
  • Add tomato sauce and tomato paste and combine…gently.  Cook for about 10 minutes and then add brown sugar and mustard.  Stir until well blended.
  • Reduce heat to lowest setting and let the favors come together for about 10 minutes.
  • Serve on broiled or grilled buttered rolls.

DSC_6219.1

DSC_6226-002

Cook’s Notes:  Easily adaptable to a completely vegetarian meal.  I think these would be just as delicious with only lentils and no beef.

lentil soup with beef

We went up to the mountains last weekend to celebrate my (ahem) 29th birthday…again!  When I told non-Arizonan friends we went “up north,” I was questioned about what it means, exactly, to go “up north” in Arizona.  Personally, it’s pretty much anywhere it isn’t 90 degrees on my birthday.  For us, that meant stealing off to Pine, AZ, located about 110 miles northeast of the valley and tucked into the mountains just below the Mogollon Rim.  At 5,500 feet of elevation, it meant I got to wear jeans and socks and real shoes.  With closed toes!!  Ahhhhh…

It also meant I didn’t have to cook because, you see, it was my birthday weekend, and those duties were off-limits to me.  I got to sit on the porch and drink red wine and read.  I got to relax and hike and see some pretty spectacular scenery.  Perfect for a birthday weekend, if you ask me.

We did eat a couple of meals out, including lunch one day at a cute little mom-and-pop restaurant called The Randall House.  The air was cool, the fall leaves were crunchy underfoot, and the sun was shining brightly in a gorgeous blue sky.  The day called for lunch in the shade on the patio and a cup of their homemade Beef and Lentil Soup.

Needless to say, I was disappointed at the end.  Disappointed it was gone.  Disappointed I hadn’t ordered a bowl instead of a cup.  Disappointed they wouldn’t give me the super-secret recipe!!  So, of course, when we got home I set out to replicate the amazing soup I’d had at The Randall House.  It had to be done!  It was of such urgency, I didn’t even photograph the prep work.

This recipe was super easy and came courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis at The Food Network.  If I set out to recreate a really good bowl of homemade soup, this recipe was spot on.  The soup is incredibly flavorful and hearty.  My only adaptation to the recipe was to reduce the amount of beef stock.  I have a pretty large Dutch Oven, but the original recipe called for 84 ounces (more than 10 cups) of beef stock.  I think I used about 6 cups of beef stock.  This made the soup a bit thicker, but I prefer heartier to too-thin broth.  Eyeball it.  If it looks too thick, add more stock.

Enjoy!

Lentil Soup with Beef

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 6 (14-ounce) cans low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 cups (about 11 ounces) lentils, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves (optional)

Preparation:

Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper.  Heat the oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.  Add half of the beef and cook until brown, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining beef.

Add the celery, carrots, onion, garlic, rosemary, and oregano to the pot. Saute until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Return the beef and any accumulated juices from the bowl to the pot.

Add the broth and tomatoes with their juice. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the meat is just tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.

Add the lentils. Cover and continue simmering until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. Stir in the parsley. Season the soup, to taste, with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

simple red lentil soup

It’s no secret I’m a fan of soup.  Love it.  Love it.  Love it.  It’s one of those meals that gives me a sense of accomplishment.  Maybe because I don’t just assemble a bunch of ingredients and then slam the oven door shut behind them until the timer goes off.  No, soup requires near constant attention from start to finish.  I actually see the progression as the dish comes together – because I’m right there stirring.  It’s sort of a symbiotic relationship: I need the soup, the soup needs me!

This recipe came to me via the fine ladies at the North Scottsdale Farmers Market, but it originated at a wonderful site called Umami Girl, which is chock-full of amazing recipes!  This one is no exception.  The lentils are beautiful and nutty, the arborio rice gives the soup great texture – a thick, hearty meal.  A squeeze of fresh lemon adds a bright finish.  Everyone loved it!  Well, Kat ate it and put on a happy face, but she’s in the midst of a 30-days-of-complaint-free-meals campaign to earn herself an American Girl doll.  Minus the opinion of a marginally picky 6 year old, the soup was a major hit.  It’ll definitely be going into the rotation.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
2 carrots, diced
1 cup dry red lentils, picked over and rinsed
1/4 cup arborio rice
3 cups water + 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Lemon wedges, for serving

Preparation

In a medium pot with a heavy bottom, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to prevent browning. Add lentils and rice and stir to coat with oil. Add water, salt, cumin, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, lifting the lid occasionally to stir, until lentils and rice are completely tender and the soup is of uniform and moderately thick consistency, about an hour. Serve hot with lemon wedges to squeeze overtop.

Kitchen Notes:  The original recipe called for 6 cups of water, which made it a truly vegetarian dish.  I opted for 3 cups water and 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock.  The option is yours.