I have an enormous collection of cooking magazines. Sometimes I think I should hire someone to type all the recipes into a program like iTunes, so that I could search for a particular ingredient or season, but that would take all the fun out of looking for a particular recipe, flipping through well-worn and dripped-on pages, only to get completely distracted and end up making something completely different from what I’d originally set out looking for.
That is true 99% of the time. There are some recipes however that I keep losing inadvertently. Such is the case with Fine Cooking magazine’s curried lentil soup. I cannot keep my hands on that recipe, and I can’t find it right now in my um, library. You see, the Gourmand & I are moving (more on that later) and things have gotten more disorganized than usual. Also, because we are moving, we are trying to eat up as much of our pantry as we can, so as not to have too much food to move. So! I had cause to recreate the curried lentil soup recipe from memory, and came up with something completely different, but equally creamy and delicious. This recipe cooks up quick, so its great for a weeknight dinner, served with good bread, or pita and hummus.
Ginger Curry Lentil Soup
1 Tbs. coriander seeds*
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium white onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 Tbs. curry powder
1 1/2 cups lentils (Use whatever color you like. Lentils come in pink, yellow, orange, and brown.)
6 cups water
Kosher or sea salt
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
Place a small sautée pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the coriander seeds and gently shake them in the dry pan to toast. This takes about 2 minutes. Be careful not to let the coriander burn. As soon as the seeds are lightly toasted, pull the pan off the heat and pour the seeds into a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle. Grind until the coriander is a fine powder. Set aside.
Place your soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, ginger, curry powder, salt and reserved coriander. Stir occasionally and sweat the vegetables (which is what you’re doing by cooking them over medium-high heat and stirring. That’s what “sweating” vegetables means, because they are giving up their water and their vegetable flavors are concentrating.) for 3-5 minutes until they just start to tenderize. Stir in the lentils and cook, stirring regular and another minute or two to lightly toast the lentils. Make sure you scrape along the bottom of your pot to prevent the lentils from sticking. Add the water and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat so that the soup is gently simmering. Cook for about 30 minutes. Check the lentils, by tasting your soup. They shoud be tender. Add more salt if necessary. Turn off the heat.
You can eat your soup at this point. However, a final step gives that creaminess I was referring to and it requires either a blender (not ideal) or a hand-held blender. If you don’t have a hand blender, and you like to cook, buy yourself one of these gadgets. Dunk it into your soup, push the button and whir your lumps away. If you have to use a stand up blender, pour 1/3 of your hot soup (see why this isn’t ideal?) into the blender. Blend until smooth. Pour smooth soup back into pot and stir. Repeat the pour-blend-pour-stir steps until your soup is smooth. Then, make plans to go buy yourself a hand blender.
*Coriander seeds come from the cilantro plant. So versatile a plant!