On my day off this week I was greeted by a brisk, autumn chill- weather perfect for my favorite tawny, leather moto jacket and a steaming bowl of soup. Determined this bowl of soup would be homemade, I headed for my kitchen. I searched my cookbooks and favorite online collections but couldn’t find the flavor combination I had in mind, so I pulled all my spices onto the kitchen table and started tinkering. This hearty, unexpectedly spicy lentil soup emerged.
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 shallots (diced)
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup baby carrots (chopped)
4 medium red potatoes (chopped)
A few shakes each of mixed dried herbs (Thyme, Basil, Sage)
1 1/2 cups red lentils
4 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups water
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon salf
Cayenne Pepper (to taste)
I think every cookbook should stress how helpful it is to chop/prep all ingredients before any cooking begins. There is a reason many TV chefs have the row of cute little bowls holding all ingredients for the dish ready to go, no frantic chopping or shuffling through the spice rack.
1. Dice Shallots and set aside.
2. Finely chop garlic (or use a garlic press) for about 3 tablespoons and set aside.
3. Chop baby carrots and red potatoes and set aside. They don’t need to be perfect, but bite-sized or smaller is best, and they can share a bowl until ready to cook.
4. Heat olive oil in a 5-quart+ heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until hot (not smoking). Add shallots, saute and stir until golden (about 5 minutes).
5. Toss garlic, carrots, potatoes, mixed dried herbs and salt in the pot and saute, stirring for an additional 2 minutes. (I was heavy handed with the herbs and loved the complex flavor and rich aroma, so be daring.)
6. Add lentils, vegetable stock, water and bay leaves and let simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until lentils are tender.
7. Sprinkle in Cayenne pepper to taste and additional salt and pepper if needed. (I waited and added more salt/pepper to my own bowl later.)
8. No need to wait, ladle directly into bowls for about 6 servings.
I didn’t stay home-bound all day, and gave my jacket a spin around the block and to-and-from the gym for good measure.