Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Comfort food

Last night our house was filled with the delicious smell of wonderful lentil soup cooking on the stove. This is one of my top 5 comfort foods for sure. It reminds me of Iraq, is super-simple to whip up, and is healthy and very filling. Plus, I was having a bit of a down day so it was good that it just so happened to already be on the menu for that night. Yummy, warm, creamy goodness!

Some friends on Facebook asked for the recipe, and since I just make it from memory it forced me to sit down and write out my version of this fantastic soup. So here's the recipe and I highly recommend adding this to your winter menu. My husband even said last night, in between mmmm's, "This is your best homemade soup!"

Iraqi Red-Lentil Soup

Serves 2-4
Cooking time- 50 minutes

1 cup red lentils (they are actually orange colored though- see photo)
6 cups liquid (I use a combo of water, beef and chicken broth- so use what you like, but if you use only water then you need to add bouillon for flavor)
¼ of a medium onion, chopped or 1 tsp dried, chopped onion
1 Tb olive oil (if using fresh chopped onion)
½  tsp cumin
¼ tsp curry powder (I use a bit less than a ¼, so adjust to your own tastes)
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup vermicelli or angel hair pasta broken in to  ½ inch pieces

1. Rinse the lentils and pick out any pebbles or bad lentils.
2. If you are using fresh chopped onion, chop it and saute it in the bottom of your stock pot with the olive oil on med-high heat.
3. Once the onion is softened, add in the 6 cups liquid and the lentils and bring to a boil.
4. Boil on med-high heat for 30-40 minutes or until lentils begin to break down (check often toward the end of the time as they may begin sticking to the bottom of the pot, adjust the heat and cooking time if needed and add more liquid if it’s getting too thick and dry. You’ll get the hang of it after cooking it the first time.)
5. Turn down the heat and add the cumin, curry powder, salt and pepper (and onion, if using dried onion). Stir thoroughly and let simmer another 5 minutes.
7. Place half the lentil soup in a blender (or use an immersion blender) to puree some of the soup to make it smoother, then return it to the pot. (Or if you don’t have a blender, use a potato masher in the pot to break them down a bit more.)
8. If the soup is too thick, add more liquid. (It should be thickened like pea-soup, NOT watery, and not too thick like a chowder would be).
9. Add the broken up pasta and let simmer another 5 minutes

Mine usually looks more like this photo
This soup is common to many Middle Eastern cultures and is served a variety of ways. This is my favorite version and it’s so easy. It’s not an exact sort of recipe, as you can tell, so you’ll have to watch the pot carefully the first time you make it to see how it acts and adjust accordingly.
The most popular additions are lemon juice, with wedges served along with the soup, and fried onions and chopped parsley sprinkled on top as a garnish. Some add rice, instead of the pasta, and others add more spices, carrots or potatoes. Make it how you like and enjoy!


No comments:

Post a Comment