Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Red Lentil Lemon Soup

First off I want to thank Bridget, Elon and Michael for encouraging me to share this recipe.

Second, I want to say that my first memorable experience with lentil soup was at Sultan’s Market in Wicker Park Chicago. The soup was simple, cheap, came in a Styrofoam soup cup and was served with a chunk of lemon. Best soup ever. Since then I have been perfecting my own lentil soup recipe…and now prefer my own lentil creations to anything currently on the market.

Before I get to the recipe, I want to mention how awesome lentils are. Lentils, cousins of the pea, were one of the first crops cultivated by man way back 8000 years ago. But lentils also have a history of being a food of the poor. The upper class would never consider serving lentils. Though, apparently Hippocrates did recommend lentils to patients who needed to improve their livers. And with these nutritional facts, the lentil has got me feeling like a rich girl!

100 grams of lentils have the same amount of protein as 134 grams of beef

1 cup of brown lentils will provide 38 mg of calcium (which is more easily absorbed by your body compared to the calcium from cow’s milk because your body won’t have to waste it’s energy and resources (including stored calcium) in order to process the animal proteins.)

Lentils are loaded with vitamins and minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, folate, iron, potassium, selenium, zinc, dietary fiber, Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, and B vitamins. With the addition of nutritional yeast in this recipe, vegans, you got your B’s covered :)

Remember, I don’t give specifics because recipes are meant to by guidelines for your experimentations.

Red Lentil Lemon Soup

Mandatory Ingredients:
Olive Oil
Onions (of any variety, red, white, yellow, green, fresh, powered, of course, whatever you can get that fits your local and organic food preferences)
Red Lentils
Lemon Juice (or apple cider vinegar)

Optional Ingredients:
Dark Leafy Greens
Nutritional Yeast

Bust out your favorite soup pot. Get it going on a medium heat.

Chop your onion however you’d like. Finely chopped is great, chunks is great….experiment!

Cover the bottom of your soup pot with a thin layer of olive oil. Give the oil a few moments to heat up, and then put the onions in for a little sauté action. (If you are using garlic, chop and put that in now as well…..also, if you decide to experiment and add any other veggies that need longer cooking time, at the end of this sauté would be a good time to add them.)

Put your red lentils in something like a screen colander, or a bowl for a rinsing. Rinse them once or twice with cold water.

Now your onions should be about sautéed and you can pour equal parts water and lentils to your soup pot. Turn up the heat until the water boils. After water boils turn heat to low, cover your soup pot and let cook for about 20 minutes.

After about 20 minutes, give things a stir, the lentils should be just about sufficiently cooked (but will get better the longer they cook). If it’s too think for your preference, add water, too thin, cook longer. Now is the time you gotta bust out the taste buds to get the right flavor. Add a few tablespoons of lemon juice and a tablespoon or so of salt, stir, give a taste, learn to sense what you need more of…the sour of the lemon, or the salt of a fine sea salt (if you are upper class enough for such a thing.)

If you are using Cyanne and Tamari, now is a good time to add those flavors in. Stir your flavors in, adjust as needed and as preferred. Let everything cook together for another 10 minutes or so. Voila! That is the simple version. Now are you ready for the, “I’m a strong healthy vegan” kicking the ass of any steak dinner version?

Let’s start with the nutritional yeast. This is a powerhouse item which I feel is essential to healthy veganism. Add a tablespoon or so of that to the soup, stir in well.

So, once you have this awesome base of a soup, topped with the vitamin and mineral richness of nutritional yeast, go out into your garden, or rummage through your CSA box for your weekly dose of dark leafy greens. This is the stuff that keeps us alive girls and guys. I’m talking your kale, spinach, swiss chard, beet or even dandelion greens, etc and more…I’ve even used lemon sorrel in this soup! Incredible!

So yeah, get your greens together; rinse them off to give the spiders a chance to escape. For a smoother soup, I like to de-steam the tougher parts of a kale or chard leaf. Personally I prefer chopping my greens pretty fine, but test out different styles, if you are using smaller leaves, you might be able to use them whole!

(A trick for chopping lots of greens: As you rinse them, stack them into a pile, then roll them up into a tight roll, then you can chop all the leaves together at the same time in one roll.)

Ok, so now you got your greens chopped up, add them to the soup. Give them 3 to 10 minutes to cook, depending on your cooked / raw food ratio needs. If you need to add a little bit more water, go for it. Just remember to readjust your lemon juice / salt balance.

I think that’s it. Enjoy the joys of this healing and satisfying meal.

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