Curried Lentil Soup with Pureed, Lemony Chickpeas

January 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve lived in Tucson, Arizona my whole life.

While these past two and a half weeks have been very hard for me, I have also been moved and humbled.  I’ve been hugged and held by dozens of strangers; I’ve been helped by people I’ve never met — both children and adults alike — when I needed an extra hand; I’ve been and remain comforted, watching thousands of my neighbors come together in sadness and a renewal of love for life and for one another.

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I haven’t cooked a thing (save toast, if you count that) in about two weeks.  But last night I was chilly and the house smelled stale.  My go-to supper of late has been a big salad (harvested from my garden) or yogurt and granola.  I was tempted by the latter, but as I picked through my recipe box of newspaper clippings and magazine tear-outs, I came across a recipe I’ve been tweaking — a curried, chunky lentil soup.  It’s a simple, one-pot meal and only dirties a knife, cutting board and Cuisinart.  I originally found it via Molly Wizenberg and fiddled with the proportions, swapping spices and a few ingredients to suit my palate.  But I didn’t tweak Molly’s lemony-chickpea blend.  In the final stages of this recipe, whiz the chickpeas with a little lemon juice and pour it into the soup a few minutes before serving.  The result is a thickened broth, almost creamy with good texture and flavor.

Last night the house filled with warmth and I cozied up to a mug of the best soup I’ve made in months.  I felt warm and nourished.  Here’s what I did:

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped (approx. 1/2 large onion)
2 carrots, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 cup green lentils, washed and picked-over for stones
4+ cups water
sea salt, pepper, to taste

1 cup garbanzo beans, cooked
2 tablespoons lemon juice

chopped scallions for garnish, optional

Method:

1.  Chop onion, carrot and garlic.  Heat a generous splash of olive oil on the stove; when hot, add onion and a pinch of sea salt to help it wilt.  Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add carrots and cook an additional few minutes.  Then add garlic and spices and saute until fragrant (1 minute tops).

2.  Rinse the lentils and drain.  Pick over and remove any debris or stones.  Add to the pot with four cups of water.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

3.  Meanwhile, take 1 cup chickpeas and two tablespoons of lemon juice and puree until slightly chunky in a blender.  Set aside.

4.  Keep an eye on the pot and if you think it needs a bit more water, add a half-cup at a time. I added a half cup in the final ten minutes of cooking.   When lentils are soft (about a half hour to forty minutes of cooking) add chickpea blend. Cook for one to two minutes and test for salt and pepper.  Season to taste.  Serve hot with chopped scallions for garnish.

Diet Notes: vegan, gluten-free, nut-free

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