Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lentil, Ginger and Carrot Soup

This soup has a decadently velvety texture, the kind that you feel guilty about having because it's been invaded with delicious fatty cream. The brilliant thing about this is that it tastes richer than it actually is! It has a lot of subtle flavours from the carrot, ginger, lentils and aromatic seasonings that work to give a strong impact. Since it is quite rich tasting and on the thick side, I added a pick-me-up topping with lots of bright ingredients like avocado, red onion, cilantro and tomato. The combination of these things when contrasted with the deep, earthy and rich flavour of the soup is really something special.

I/2 cup red lentils
1/2 cup yellow lentils
3/4 cup diced onions
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup carrots cut into coins
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup diced celery
1/2 cup large diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon lime juice
about 4 cups of water

1 avocado finely diced
1 tomato seeded and finely diced
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion finely chopped
1.5 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

Rinse the lentils and set aside.
In a medium sized saucepan heat the olive oil and add the onions. Cook on medium-low heat until soft and translucent. Add the carrots and celery cook for another two minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, cook for one minute or until the garlic is nice and golden.  Add the tomatoes and cook for one minute and try to press them down with your cooking utensils to get the juices going. Stir in the lentils so that everything gets incorporated. Add a bay leaf and enough water to completely cover the lentils. Bring to a boil and simmer on low for about 50 minutes or until soft and mushy. Make sure you check to see if the lentils have absorbed all the water. If so, add more.

Now we season. Add the cumin, tumeric, coriander, garam masala, cayenne and tomato paste. Stir until everything is incorporated. If it's thick and not runny, add about 1/2 cup- 1 cup of water. Discard the bay leaf and transfer the contents to a blender or food processor. You may need to do it in batches. Puree the soup until it's smooth. Don't go overboard- once it's all smooth and velvety it's good! Transfer the pureed soup back into the saucepan and taste it. Ask yourself, "is this too thick, too smooth?" "Is there enough salt?" etc.  And don't be afraid to experiment! Add more water if it's too thick, turn on the heat and simmer the soup if it's too runny (it will condense this way). When it's at your desired consistency add the lime juice and stir.

Combine the avocado, diced tomato, cilantro and red onion.

Serve hot and top each bowl with the avocado mixture!

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