Monday, November 4, 2013

Lively Up Yourself Lentil Soup

Recipe from Heidi Swanson’s Blog
Husband-Tested in Alice’s Kitchen
Serves about 6-8

Boy, was this quick to make, but don’t let the short ingredient list fool you.  The soup is quite good and hearty on its own for “everyday” dinners, but if you plan to make this “company worthy” be sure to try the topping options.  My buddy, Jean, gave me a teeny jar of saffron a while back, so I gave the saffron yogurt and poached egg options a try.  The saffron yogurt really makes the dish lovely to look at because it turns the yogurt a sunny yellow and so it makes for a bright contrast to the dark lentils.  I love the gooey texture of the poached egg on this soup.  Give some of the other topping options a try too.  The butternut squash topping is outstanding!  (For directions on poaching an egg and information about saffron, see below.)  I haven’t tried making this with regular lentils, but I’m sure it would be fine.  I personally favor French green lentils because they hold their shape and they are a bit firmer to the bite.  You can find all of the ingredients at Lost River Market & Deli.

2 cups French lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (I used fire roasted crushed tomatoes.)
2 cups water
3 cups chard, kale, rinsed well, deveined, finely chopped or baby spinach, whole (I used spinach.)

Saffron Yogurt (Optional Topping)
a pinch of saffron (30-40 threads)
1 tablespoon boiling water
two pinches of salt
1/2 cup 2% Greek Yogurt

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan, add the lentils, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.
While the lentils are cooking, make the saffron yogurt by combining the saffron threads and boiling water in a tiny cup. Let the saffron steep for a few minutes. Now stir the saffron along with the liquid into the yogurt. Mix in the salt and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat, then add the onion and salt and saute until tender, a couple minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, lentils, and water and continue cooking for a few more minutes, letting the soup come back up to a simmer. Stir in the chopped greens, and wait another minute. Taste and adjust the seasoning if need be. Ladle into bowls, and serve with a dollop of the saffron yogurt.

Other Topping Options:
Poached egg or crunchy, fried shallots or with a drizzle of chive infused cream or with chunks of tiny pan-fried butternut squash or sweet potato cubes.

Saffron comes from the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus. It takes 75,000 blossoms or 225,000 hand-picked stigmas to make a single pound which explains why it is the world’s most expensive spice.  Thankfully, for most recipes, you just need a little pinch.

How to Poach Eggs
Recipe from Martha Stewart Cooking School
Always use the freshest eggs you can find for poaching: The thick albumen will hold its shape better around the yolk than older eggs. Add vinegar to the poaching water to help the eggs coagulate faster by preventing the whites from spreading out.
Bring a large, wide saucepan of water and 1 tablespoon of vinegar (any flavor) to a boil. Break one egg at a time into a small heatproof bowl, about the size of one egg. Reduce heat so that the water is just simmering. Slightly immerse the bowl in the water, and gently slide in the egg. After all eggs are added, cover pot, turn off heat, and let stand 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove eggs in the order they were added and set spoon briefly on a kitchen towel to drain. Trim ragged edges with a knife or scissors, if desired, and serve immediately.
Planning Ahead:
If cooking for a crowd, poached eggs can be made ahead of time: Chill in an ice-water bath, transfer to a covered container, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Reheat them by immersing in simmering water for 1 minute.

1 comment:

Cyndi Hendrickson said...

I love this soup so much! I've made it a few times now and have a few portions in the deep freezer. It rehears from frozen really well and then I just need to prepare the toppings. Thanks for these great recipes!