Thursday, April 10, 2014

Red Lentil Soup (Recipe 4)

March guys.  March.  Let’s debrief.  Calling it a rollercoaster is not even a stretch; there were some lows, some sorrows, some craziness, some whirlwind highs, a whole lot of busy, and a really great trip down to see one of my bestest gals: Ms. J.  No, not that Ms. J

This Ms. J:

She and I have been buds since 1996, when I walked into my first summer camp cabin and she was there, all braces, curls, and sass.  We lived together in our castle in the clouds after college, and she’s solely responsible for my more guilty ladynerd pleasures. Ahem, ahem, OUTLANDER. Ms. J and I decided it was high time we take our friendship to a new level: honeymoon.  Sure, we’re not married to each other, or at all.  But shouldn’t best galpals get a honeymoon too?  Our ladymoon took us to some excellent eating and watering holes in Durham, NC, Savannah, GA, and Asheville, NC, but one of the most memorable meals was one that Ms. J made my first night in Durham.  

Breaking out alllll the Le Creusets
Her recipe is actually a favorite one of her mom’s, which was obtained at a cooking class at one of their hometown restaurants, Kareem’s.  Kareem’s (and the Ms. J parentals) are located in the fair city of Watertown, MA, made internationally famous for sadder reasons just about one year ago when the Boston Marathon bombing suspects when on the lam and had a dramatic shootout throughout this normally sedate town.  Watertown is home to a ton of delicious Syrian, Albanian, and Lebanese restaurants, and this recipe, adapted from Kareem’s original one, will bring a delicious spoonful of Syria via Watertown right to your own table, wherever you may be.

I did some light adapting, mostly because I am lazy, making it totally vegan, and by using things I had on hand (ie. I was too lazy to squeeze a lemon, so I used the lime juice I was using to make Moscow mules for my guest and I).   It is super quick, super easy, massively delicious, and I’m super glad to report it’ll likely become part of my repertoire for weeknight recipes.  Coincidentally, I am also super glad to have Ms. J as a friend (for more reasons than this recipe, duh).  

Red Lentil Soup (Recipe 4 - Le Creuset Challenge)

Red Lentil Soup

Red Lentil Soup
Adapted from an adaptation of Kareem Restaurant’s recipe for Ahmad’s Red Lentil Soup
Serves 4-6

2 cups red lentils
½ cup farro, quinoa, or other hearty ancient grain (or a mix)
6 cups water
1 14 oz can lite coconut milk
1 medium onion, minced
2-3 Tbsp coconut oil
6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp red pepper flakes
½ tsp ground cumin
2 tsp kosher salt
¼ c fresh lime juice
8 oz fresh spinach

1.  In a Le Creuset or stock pot bring the water and coconut milk to a boil.  Add the lentils, grains, and onions, and bring to a boil.
2.  When a boil has been attained, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook while covered for 30 or so minutes until the grains and lentils are cooked and creamy, stirring from time to time to distribute and prevent burning.  
3.  In a small skillet, melt the coconut oil over low.  Add the garlic, coriander, salt and pepper and saute until the garlic and oils change color to a golden brown.  This should occur sometime after five minutes, but it could be longer.
4.  Add to the soup along with the lime juice, stirring thoroughly.
5.  Add the spinach to the pot, covering for 2-3 minutes to wilt before stirring to mix into the soup.
6.  Let soup simmer for a few minutes, until the spinach is cooked.
7.  Serve hot and with some flat bread and salad on the side.

- Always sift through lentils to make sure there are no small pebbles that have a mind to make their way into your dinner!
- The original recipe calls for more water, doubling the total.  This seems highly excessive!  The recipe adapted here will make a thicker soup.  If you like it to be a lot more watery, by all means add a cup or two of water to the recipe to your soup thickness preferences!
- The original also calls for arborio rice or whatever you prefer using to make a risotto.  I prefer farro, but naturally, I totally thought I had more than a ¼ cup, and had to use the quinoa I had on hand.  It was not a bad idea!  I think any ancient grain, or hearty type of rice, would work in this recipe.
- You can use lemon or lime juice interchangably here; the original recipe calls for lemon, but I was way to lazy to juice one when I had a bottle of fresh lime juice in my fridge.  
- As suggested above, this recipe is vegan.  You can, however, use butter in lieu of coconut oil if that’s more your jam.
- This is super quick and super easy.  Repeat: this recipe is super quick and easy.  It goes great with friendship!

Yes, yes we did visit the waterfall where Last of the Mohicans AND The Hunger Games was filmed.
And, yes.  Yes, we did recreate some of the scenes.
And, yes.  
Yes I did fall in.  
Self low five!

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