Thursday, September 20, 2012
This Soup ...
This soup .. yes, this soup. This soup reminds me of my very first experience cooking for real in my parents' kitchen, with my sister beside me and my grandma watching. This soup has old familiar flavours and wraps itself around me like a warm knitted scarf on the first breezy, chilly day of fall. This soup isn't by any means a gooey chocolate cake, a wholesome banana bread or a zippy, lemony treat. But this soup welcomed me back into the school year and eased the pain of summer holidays ending and work beginning.
This soup is the answer to your weeknight dinner problems, and is also the good idea of staying in on Saturday night and curling up with dinner on the sofa. This soup is zingy from the spices and lemon and creamy from the red lentils, cooked until almost completely dissolved. I chose rainbow chard -- stems and leaves -- to put into this soup; the stems add nice bulk and the leaves turn velvety in the broth.
I think if you wanted to add to this soup, a cup of cooked chickpeas would do the trick, or even a few cubes of tofu sprinkled on top when serving. If you're the type, some crusty bread would probably be nice with this soup ... if you're the type, but I'm not really. I enjoyed this soup straight up, piping hot, curled up on the couch on a Saturday night when I should have been out dancing the night away, or enjoying a movie and popcorn. But dancing and movies aren't what I need in September when the winds are trying to change but the seasons won't let go, when that sneaky feeling of something ending and responsibility sinking in makes its way from my mind to the pit of my stomach; what I needed was this soup. And now, I can enjoy my September.
Lentil Soup with Greens
a chunk of ginger, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minces
juice and zest of half a lemon
a bunch of swiss chard -- stems diced, leaves chopped into ribbons (spinach, kale would be great too)
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of curry powder
1 cup of red lentils, rinsed
3 cups of water or vegetable stock (I used a combination of both)
salt and pepper to taste
a splash of light soy sauce (if desired)
a few sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
1. In a soup pot, cook the ginger and garlic in olive oil over medium heat for about a minute, or until things start getting really fragrant. Careful not to burn the garlic!
2. Add the lemon zest and spices and cook for a minute to let the spices toast. Add in the chard stems, lentils and vegetable stock and stir well. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
3. Add the chard leaves and cook, covered, for another 10-12 minutes, or until the greens are tender, the lentils and cooked and almost dissolving, and the broth is slightly thickened.
4. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice and fresh thyme. Stir well. Taste and add a splash of soy sauce if desired. Serve!