Monday, September 24, 2007

Lentil Soup

I've been hungering for lentil soup ever since Cat posted about it on her blog and was fortunate enough to receive a cookbook in the mail which more than answered my prayers. The book in question is Iranian Najmieh Batmanglij's lovely Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey. Flipping through this glossy tome covering food from China all the way to Sicily (and many unknown places in between), I can sort of drown out the sound of my schizophrenic neighbor's shrieking and dream instead about places with names like Kermanshah and Tabriz. Recipes aside, I love the book for its billions of photos and reliance on history, culture, and geography to illuminate and inform. Plus, she throws in some Rumi every now and then.

I made the Balkh Brown Lentil Soup, but seeing as I lacked brown lentils, butternut squash, rice flour, and angelica powder, modified it for what I did have, namely a 4 year old can of pumpkin, red lentils, regular flour, and ground coriander. Oh, and I threw in some dried chickpeas. Whatever changes I made, it still turned out incredible and very, very different.

(Austerlitz) Red Lentil Soup

3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can pumpkin
1/2 cup dried chickpeas
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp coriander powder
1 1/2 cups red lentils
2 Tbsp flour (diluted into a 1/2 cup water)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp lime juice

1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and stir fry for 20 seconds. Be sure to have the lid on hand as they will spatter. Add the onions, garlic, and pumpkin and stir fry for 10 minutes.

2. Add the water, salt, pepper, lentils, and boil. Cover and simmer over medium heat until the lentils are tender, stirring occasionally (about 50 minutes).

3. Add flour, chili powder, and orange juice and boil. Simmer for another 40 minutes. If too thick, add warm water and boil.

Najmieh's website:

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