Red Lentil Soup

9 Oct

The weather is turning here in New York, and that means it’s soup and stew time! Soups and stews are a treat because I can stretch a pot out for a few days, guaranteeing a healthy meal in a pinch.

Last week I made a rendition (with purple potato, romanesco, turnips, turnip greens…) of the always satisfying Tofu Panang Curry.

This week I made a riff on a soup by my favorite soup/stew queen, Heidi Swanson. She always gets her veggies in, with some sort of plant-based protein (tofu, lentils, quinoa, beans, nuts…), and then tops everything off with nuts or olives and a spoon of yogurt or a sprinkle of cheese. Her soups and stews have a little of everything, just the way I like.

I made her very simple red lentil soup. It has brown rice for texture and substance. I added in some veggies from my Sunday farmer’s market trip. To top things off, I sprinkled a hefty amount of queso fresco on top (you could use any cheese you want, or if you are vegan you could use chopped avocado and/or sliced almonds…). I also added on the side some roasted delicata squash, my absolute favorite because it is super easy to cut, and you can eat the skin!

Heidi explains:

Red lentils collapse and lose structure quite quickly – and in this case they shift color a bit. Don’t let that throw you. And it’s actually the rice that retains it’s texture here, while the lentils provide the body for the soup. So don’t be alarmed when your lentils stop looking like lentils after about ten minutes in the pot.

Red Lentil Soup

adapted from Heidi Swanson

serves 4-6

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

Optional: 2-3 shallots, chopped

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

6 cups liquid (I used 2 cups broth, 4 cups water)

1 1/3 cups red lentils, picked through and rinsed

1/2 cup brown rice, rinsed

salt, to taste

Optional: 1 chopped medium red potato (or sweet potato), large handful of chopped greens (kale, turnip greens…)

Toppings: queso fresco (or feta), roasted delicata squash…

In a big soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium and add the onion, shallots, and red pepper flakes. Let them brown, and caramelize a bit, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the water/broth, bring to a boil, then stir in the lentils and rice. Add the potato and kale, if using. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the rice is very tender, and not at all toothsome. By this time, the lentils will have collapsed into a thick slop of sorts. If you need to add more water/broth at any point do so a splash at a time, until the soup thins out to the point you prefer.

Unless you used a salty broth, you will likely need to salt generously, until the the soup no longer tastes flat. Serve each bowl topped with queso fresco and roasted delicata squash. You can also top with avocado, olives, sliced almonds, yogurt…

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