Sunday, February 24, 2008

Get Dressed and Cook Something (Red Lentil Soup)

You can see the soup here in a Colombian clay pot. It is unlacquered—that’s the black river clay itself. I got it a beloved shop on Greenwich Avenue called “Be Seated.” The fabric on which it is sitting is a jacket I bought in the same shop. So you see, Be Seated sells clothes and pots, but no chairs. They should really call the store “Get Dressed and Cook Something”

This recipe, like almost all my soup recipes, makes a very large pot of soup. You may halve or third quantities to get a more manageable amount. It started out as a vegetarian adaptation of the Minestra di Esaù in Edda Servi Machlin’s Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews, but it has become almost unrecognizable. I really should have written about this wonderful soup by now. It is one of the reliable workhorses of the rotation. I make this all the time. Other herbal staples are to be found at Kalyn’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Lia from Swirling Notions.

Red Lentil Soup with Parsley and Garlic Paste

3 cups red lentils (1 ½ pounds)

olive oil (be liberal)

4 onions

3 or so carrots

½ head of celery (about 7 ribs) peeled and destringified

(optional) 1 or 2 dried red chiles, such as chilcostles

2 6-ounce cans tomato paste

½ bunch flat parsley

3-5 cloves garlic

coarse salt

Wash and sort the lentils. You may set them to soak while you prepare the vegetables, if you like. Heat oil in a large soup kettle. Cut the onions into quarter-inch dice and add them to the oil. While the onions are simmering, dice the carrots and de-stringified celery. Add them to the pot, along with the chiles, if you are using them, when the onions are quite soft. Continue stirring and cooking until the vegetables have relaxed. Add the tomato paste and stir and cook a while longer. Now add the drained lentils and about four quarts of water and some salt. Simmer for about an hour, removing the foam from the surface and adding more water as necessary, until everything is tender. When the soup is just about ready, mince together the parsley and garlic with some kosher salt. Stir the herb paste into the soup.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Miriam said...

I made a red lentil soup last night! Has this ever happened to you that old red lentils refuse to become mushy? Mine remained (sadly for my poor tummy) resolutely crunchy and indigestible....

5:01 PM  
Blogger Kalyn said...

I'm a big fan of the red lentils, especially for soup. Sounds very tasty. Also, sounds like a very interesting shop.

11:25 PM  
Blogger the chocolate lady מרת שאקאלאד said...

miriam,
there is great variation in varieties of red lentils, and I have had some (those that are a lighter red, and maybe not split) that are much slower to cook, but I don't think I ever had lentils that never gave it up eventually.

kalyn,
it is a wonderful soup, and I look forward to taking you shopping when you visit town!

10:53 AM  
Anonymous abby said...

i made the soup last night, too, and it was awesome! i subbed green lentils for the red ones (i know they're different, but it's what i had...) and didn't have any parsley to add.. next time. anyway, it was geshmak.

my question: do you have a special method of skimming off the foam? i have been ineffectively using a spoon - is there a better way?

also, what is the purpose of chopping the parsley up with the salt? does the salt do something to the parsley that it wouldn't do if you added it separately?

10:03 PM  

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