Saturday, September 17, 2011

helpful reminder

It feels like fall is arriving a week early.  Mister and I are completely okay with that, although I need to be a little more vigilant about wearing enough clothes to deal with the lower temperatures.  Due to "rail improvement," what is usually a 30-minute train ride to teach turned into an hour-and-15-minute-long odyssey.  At the conclusion, I decided to treat myself to a coffee to wake me and warm me and as I was walking back to where I teach, I passed a restaurant marquee that struck a chord (sorry, terrible pun).

"It's time for soup and chili!"

Obviously, that was meant to be an invitation for passing cars to pull into the parking lot and enjoy soup and/or chili inside the restaurant, but as I strolled by, coffee in hand, I thought, "Yes, yes it is."  During the long way home, I had plenty of time to plot my replacement for what was supposed to be Spanakopita, including which grocery store to hit for supplies.

So, as I sunk into my light scarf and hooded shirt and watched the dreary scenery of West Philadelphia pass by my window, I daydreamed of a hearty, savory soup and September Lentil Soup was conceived:

September Lentil Soup
6 servings

2 Tbsp olive oil
3 large cloves of garlic, pressed/minced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
3 large carrots, peeled and diced (I quarter them lengthwise and slice at about 1/2-3/4")
5 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp kosher salt (or whatever suits you, though I wouldn't recommend amethyst bamboo salt)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1 Tbsp [vegan] Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp tomato paste

1/2 cup brown lentils (a la Goya)
1/2 cup red lentils
4 cups vegetable broth

Heat oil in a large saucepan or soup pot (I found my 2.5 qt saucepan was just fine), then add garlic and green pepper.

aim for all veggies to be of uniform size

a shortcut I find helpful is to press the garlic onto
the peppers and scoop the whole mess into the pot

Cover the pot and reduce heat to low.  Saute garlic and pepper for about 5 minutes while you're dicing the carrots, then add them to the party.  Cover again and saute 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, while you dice the tomatoes.

Stir in tomatoes, thyme, salt, and black pepper.  Sprinkle on liquid smoke and Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine, then cover and simmer 5 more minutes.

Stir in both the brown and red lentils, then pour in the broth.  Add tomato paste and stir well to make sure everything blends together.  Raise heat to high and bring to a boil.

Once the soup has come to a rolling boil, reduce heat to the lowest setting and allow to simmer, uncovered, 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender.


Mister and I certainly did enjoy it!  It was everything I wanted it to be and it was really a great feeling to recognize that I now have an adequate enough understanding of how certain things taste and how those flavors can work together that I can create a tasty recipe out of thin, chilly air.  It was perfect - an attractive, chunky, filling and totally savory soup.  Mister, who does not normally appreciate soup dinners went back for a generous second helping.  Fortunately, he was also in total agreement with the marquee that started it all...

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