Simple Lentil Soup, by me.

Last week I came home and had nothing really planned or available for dinner. Since I have a pretty well stocked kitchen with dry legumes, canned stuff, spices, and the basics for produce (onion, garlic, carrot, celery), I decided to make a lentil salad. I found one recipe that suggested boiling the lentils in broth instead of water, which I started to do. Then I went to start chopping the carrots, onion, celery, etc., and I realized- I'm making soup. So soup, it was (100+ degree day notwithstanding), it was good too! I kept it very simple, which despite my love of complicated recipes and flavors, is sometimes not only necessary but a really welcome change. A few basic ingredients let their individual flavors stand out a bit more. Here's the recipe: 1.5 c green lentils, well rinsed 5c broth (I use Better Than Bouillon not Chicken veg broth), more if needed 1 c water (could add more liquid if you like) 4 carrots, peeled and finely chopped 3 stalks celery, finely chopped 1/2 white onion, finely chopped 4 cloves garlic, minced 2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped 1/2 t marjoram 1t ground black pepper 1t thyme 1T oil salt to taste (that recommended broth is pretty salty, you don't need to add much salt) Boil the lentils in 2-3 c broth. Chop all veg, and put carrots, celery and onion in the oil in a stockpot. Sautee until they're soft but still somewhat firm (onions will be getting translucent). Add garlic and tomatoes until tomatoes start to soften. Pour the lentils and broth in with the onions and others. Add remaining broth, water and spices. Cook for 20-30 minutes until lentils are soft (being careful not to go too long and let them get mushy). Salt to taste, serve with crackers or bread.

Native Foods "Moon Dahl"

Yum. I found this on the Native Foods blog, and dug and dug to find it again to no avail. You'll have to trust me, I got it from them. I'll retype it since they had published it. I did change a few things, I'll list it as they listed it and then tell you what I did differently after.

This came about because I had bought a bag of Mung Dal at India Sweets and Spice. I love yellow lentils at restaurants, but can never find them, so I got the Mung Dal first then dug around for a recipe after. This is a good one too. The yellow lentils (not sure if that's technically what they are, but ?) are intensely creamy. Also, I used spinach as a green, which gets pretty creamy too. It was a great dish, and excellent along side the Creamed Lentils with a bit of naan. Divine nosh.

Native Foods Moon Dahl

1 c Split Moong Dahl (mind was spelled Mung Dal on the bag)
1-1 1/2 cups water (I used 2)
1/4 c olive oil
1 T coconut oil (cool stuff!)
1 1/2 t cumin seed
1 1/2 t ground coriander
1/2 t turmeric
1 t salt
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 jalapeno, chopped
1/2 bunch swiss chard, chopped into 1/2" pieces (I used baby spinach)
1 t lemon juice
4 T cilantro, chopped (didn't have this, skipped it)
1 pinch finely ground nutmeg ( I know that I should have trusted this, but it sounded weird so I skipped it)

Rinse beans well and sort through for stones. Add water and bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes, set aside.

Heat olive and coconut oils and roast cumin seeds for 30 seconds. Add coriander, turmeric, salt, tomato and jalapeno and saute for approximately 3 minutes.

Add swiss chard and saute for another five minutes

Add chard mixture to dahl

Add lemon juice, chopped cilantro and nutmeg

Turkish Lentil Stew

Ooooh, this is a good one! This is the "Turkish Lentil Stew" from Real Food Daily's book (there's actually still recipes in there that I haven't tried yet). Also, as an aside, Ann Gentry is coming out with a new book in June which makes me extremely happy. If it's 1/2 as good as the first, I won't look good in a bikini this summer.

Anyway, this is a great, hearty, flavorful soup. It uses fresh rosemary which is just unbelievable to smell and chop and work with. It's like ginger in that the smell just makes you feel lucky and happy to be around it. Also, for an RFD recipe, it's relatively quick (45 min or so total). And, you can't help but be convinced that you're getting healthier by eating it; lentils, tomato, garlic, spinach... all good stuff. I generally am not the biggest soup-as-a-meal fan. I like a good soup and sammie combo or something. This, however, falls into the chili/ black bean soup category- it's definitely filling enough as a meal. I did half the ingredients, though (like most RFD recipes)- and it still made enough for at least four nice sized bowls.

Four stars and a bonus point- it's a great recipe.

Lentil Shepard's Pie

I can't believe that it took me this long to write about this one. It's been a staple for us for years- particularly at holidays. It's a very carnivore-friendly recipe. It's hearty and comfort-y (mashed potatoes!) I also add corn to the mix, which isn't in the recipe. It's from the Compassionate Cook (p.160). Seasoned brown lentils, mashed potatoes (with skins) and corn... you kinda can't go wrong.

Cremed Lentils (or Lentilles á la créme)

This is an awesome Indian dish with a great story. About 12 years ago, I bought a small pamphlet of a cookbook (softcover, only 64 pages) at 1/2 Price Books. It was an Indian cookbook that I got because I was trying out veganism (for the first time). Half of the book is meat, but the other half is amazing vegetable dishes like Piquant Chickpeas, Pakoras, etc. The hands down best of all the veg dishes that I tried from the book was a dish called, "Creamed Lentils". It calls for creme, which I skip- and it's still amazing. It's a relatively easy dish that has intense, amazing Indian flavors and is great with Naan or Poppadoms, or for a bigger dinner with the Bend it Like Beckham Gobi .

Anyway- I loved the dish and loved the book, but it was lost in a move. We were devastated. I had no idea what the ratios of spices and ingredients were, and since it was just a little wisp of a book, there was little chance of ever being able to find it by title on Amazon, Borders, whatever.

We came to terms with our loss and years later were in Paris. There's a huge bookshop that we had gone to whenever we were able to visit the city, and there it was- right there on the sidewalk sale table for 2 €- "Cuisine Indienne"- the exact same book! In French. So whatever, we bought it and have translated it and... here you are! And you didn't even have to go to France to get it (you're welcome).

1 cup red or yellow lentils
1 teaspoon salt
3 / 4 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon chili powder
3 cups water
1 onion, finely chopped
4 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 large tomato, very ripe and chopped égrainée
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 tablespoons minced cilantro or mint

1. Cook 20 minutes the lentils in water with salt, turmeric and pepper, until they are tender. drain.
2. Brown the onions. Book 1 tablespoon for garnish. Add garlic and ginger and cook briefly. Add tomatoes, cook until they are soft.
3. Combine lentils with the garam masala and half the chopped herbs. Stir and heat.
4. Pour into a dish, garnish with remaining herbs and garnish with the reserve onion.