Friday, September 23, 2011

Autumn Lentil Soup

I'm  not sure why I'm working on this post first since I don't have any pictures of it, and I don't have plans to make the soup again in the next oh, 3 days.  But I love this soup so much, I guess I feel like I must share.  Besides, lentil soup is not exactly the most glamorous soup to look at, not to mention that this soup is a very simple soup without extra additions anyways.  Therefore, decreed: picture not needed.

I don't actually do a ton of totally original recipe work.  I do LOTS of adapting recipes to fit our dietary needs, and even an exact recipe or two here and there.  I'd like to do more original recipe experimentation, but it doesn't always come to me.  Anyways....  I was in Whole Foods bulk aisle when I saw this Autumn Blend of dried lentils.  It contained French Green, Petite Crimson, Golden, Black Beluga, Spanish Pardina and Ivory White - most of which I've never heard of or eaten.  The most exotic I've gotten is the French Lentils.  And I know why now - they are definitely more expensive than your typical green flat lentil in the 1lb bags at the grocery stores.  But I was so curious, I scooped up a cup and brought them home.

Okay, I realized a picture of the Autumn Blend would be nice.

For those of you that adept at tiny reading, ignore the fact that the container says "sunflower seeds".

Then the question was how to cook them.  I couldn't just toss them in one of my typical lentil dishes.  I had to make something special to go with the $3.69/lb lentils - or at least different.  I knew I wanted to use smoked paprika, as I have been addicted to that recently.  I'm not sure how I went all this time without knowing how superior smoked paprika is to regular paprika.  I went to the spice rack and started sniffing.  Then I found it - white pepper.  I haven't used it in a dish in ages, so I'd forgotten how great it smelled.  But after that I wasn't sure what would be good to pair with it, so I went pretty basic - garlic powder, onion powder, veggie broth, and some salt.  Simple soup it is then.

It's so basic some of your jaws dropped in underwhelmation - I saw them.  And yes, I did just make up that word.  But it is so good you have to try it anyways.  Even the hubbs pronounced it "Mmm, really good".

Autumn Lentil Blend Soup

1 cup dried Autumn Lentil Blend*, carefully picked through and rinsed
3 cups veggie broth (or 3 cups water and 2-3tsp of veggie broth powder)
1/4 tsp of white pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
heaping 1/4 tsp of garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika**

Okay, so I probably added more smoked paprika than that.

Place all ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil and simmer for around 15 minutes or until the lentils are soft, with a little bite.  If you cook them till they are completely soft the soup gets mushy, and the lentils lose their color and it does not have quite as pleasing a texture.  So cook just until they have a little chewiness left to them.

*If using regular flat green lentils, add closer to 4 cups water and cook for an extra 10 minutes or so.
**If you don't have smoked paprika, I would A. recommend you get some, or B. would assume that using regular paprika and some liquid smoke would achieve a similar result.  But I haven't tried that, fyi.

So this soup is a really great simple side the way it is, or go ahead and add some chopped up carrot and potato and onion (or other veggies of choice), and make it a heartier meal.  Since it's lentils, which are packed full of protein, adding some veggies to round it out makes it a great main dish recipe.

Also, if you haven't already been thinking "do I really like lentil soup enough to pay nearly $4/lb for these lentils" you should be now.  And the correct answer of course is

YES OF COURSE YOU LOVE LENTILS THAT MUCH!

Hah, no just kidding.  I understand budgets.  I know I love lentils this much, but do still have a budget to think about.  I did try this with regular flat green lentils, with pretty much the same taste result, but a mushier texture.

Do note that the flat green lentils are sometimes referred to as brown as that is the color they actually are (!) and that they cook up to be.

You can slightly under cook the regular green lentils till they have a bit of bite left like the blend, but it still ends up different texture than the Autumn Blend.  And I really think I can taste a very subtle difference. (I think hubbs thinks I'm making that one up, but I swear I'm not.)

At any rate, not having the money to buy the more expensive lentils is definitely not a reason to not make this!!  It's totally delicious either way, and a really cheap side dish if you use the regular lentils.  Honestly I'll probably try mixing the special blend with the regular, or saving the blend for the special 1 time out of 4 or something.



Learn to Love your Lentils!

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