Recipe: Lentil soup with cumin and coriander

I made this last week because I was craving something wholesome, tasty, and freezable for dinner. I was originally planning for a curry-inspired lentil soup, but we were out of curry powder, and then I decided on a whim to add some escarole (which I’d never cooked before; I had been planning to add kale, which would also be good). Eventually, I just decided to look at a few recipes for inspiration and use the “taste and adjust” method to pick the spices. All of the spice quantities are therefore rough estimates; I suggest starting with a bit less than the amount called for and adding more of whatever you think the soup needs. Despite the somewhat haphazard approach, I was quite please with the result.

Lentil Soup with Cumin and Coriander

Yield: about 10 servings

Adapted from (loosely): Food.com

Olive oil
2 onions, chopped
10 oz ground beef
3-4 carrots, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
2 T (red) miso
1.5 T cumin could use more
1 T coriander
1.5 t turmeric
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 T fennel seeds
1 t black pepper (plus more to taste)
Dash of cayenne pepper
Dash of cardamom
28 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1.33 c brown lentils
about 6+ cups water (can add some stock as well)
1 bunch escarole, chopped

In a large pot over medium heat, saute the onions in a bit of olive oil until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add ground beef and cook, breaking up into small chunks, until all the pieces are browned. Add carrots and bell peppers and cook until slightly softened.

Add miso and stir to coat the vegetables and meat in the paste. Add spices and stir to coat again. Turn up the heat to high and add tomatoes and their juices, lentils, and about 6 cups water and stir. (I recommend using water that you have already boiled in a kettle to speed up the cooking process.) Once it comes to a boil, cover and let cook about 20 minutes, until lentils are softened and tomatoes have lost their acidity. If the soup is too watery, let it cook for a while with the lid off. If too thick, add more water. Taste and adjust seasoning.

When just about ready to eat the soup, add chopped escarole and stir until mixed in. Let cook, stirring every 30 second or so, until the escarole has wilted/just cooked, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and enjoy.

Serving suggestion: Needs nothing, but a few dashes of a good hot sauce (I like Alex’s Ugly Sauce Dragon blend) can’t go amiss.

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