Well. No fireworks and bangs. Just like that, simply and quietly- I'm back. Hello there! It has been nearly
half a year since I last visited this place, and time went by quickly. Where have I been? Many of the same places. A couple of new ones as well. Sometimes busy, sometimes less so. For the most part, life has carried on in its normal, ongoing pace, that is- at times flowing rapidly, at others dripping slowly drop by drop, but all in all, I have absolutely no complaints.
On the contrary. But I missed you. I missed sharing recipes, and thoughts of food and other yummy things with you. Needless to say, much food has been cooked over the past six months. Several dishes even yielded an excited "I MUST put this one on the blog!!!" categorization in my little brain, and so photos were taken and recipes scribbled down, and perhaps the time might come to share some of what has been cooking.
But to start, I'm making lentil soup. Right now, that is. A pot of red, tangy, warmly spiced lentils are bubbling away on the stove behind me as I type. My friend Yonatan made this soup last week and brought it in to the studio, where he folds wonderful Origami creations, I throw pots, and the both of us share the thrills and delights of two avid food lovers with each other, gushing over what each of us cooked and turned out "Amazing!!!". So, Yonatan kindly invited me to a cup of soup, and that soup in return got me excited. I asked him to share the recipe and he happily and generously agreed, describing the ingredients he gathered into this particular soup with the eager excitement that only a true food lover could feel towards carrots and the like. And so, I'm not even waiting for the soup to be ready to begin writing this one. I added a little tweaks of my own in the shape of smoked paprika and lemon juice, just so I could get a creative. It was delicious without them as well. I know it will be good, I just know it. Trust me on this one.
Yonatan's Red Lentil and Coriander Seed Soup
1.5 cups red lentils*, soaked over night
2 medium onions, diced
1 large carrot, diced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 celery stalks, leaves coarsely chopped and set aside, stalks diced
1/2 tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsps tomato paste
2 tbsps tomato paste
3 tbsp olive oil
small bunch of cilantro, chopped
pinch of cayenne pepper
a squeeze of lemon juice
In a large pot warm olive oil, add onions and saute for several minutes, stirring occasionally. just before they begin to turn golden add carrots, garlic and coriander seeds- I used a mortar and pestle to slightly crush mine, but you could try spreading them over the chopping block and rolling a rolling pin firmly over them. Cook for several more minutes, then add the diced celery stalks. After 2-3 more minutes add the soaked lentils, cumin and paprika, stir well and cook, again for several minutes, careful not to let the bottom layer burn. cover with water- around 1.5 liters I'd say, add the tomato paste and stir in till dissolved. cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let cook till lentils are completely tender. At this point add salt, cilantro, a pinch of cayenne pepper ( or more, if you like more heat ) and a little bit of lemon juice- you don't want the lemon to overpower the flavours, but to be more of a subtle hint.
Serve with a bit of olive oil drizzled on top. Yum.
* A word or two ( or a very long paragraph ) about red lentils. For the most part, the red lentils I've used cook up extremely quickly and in fact loose their shape almost instantly, resulting in rich, porridge-like dishes- perfect for Dahl. On close examination the red lentils that seem to be the most common around here are all split, and so cannot sprout, although I still prefer to soak them, whether out of habit or of hopes that the soaking still eases digestion in this case as well. However, I managed to lay my hands on some super-star gorgeous un-split red lentils for this soup, at an Ethiopian shop at the market. The Ethiopian stores at Mahane Yehuda all have an exceptional range of legumes, and although I seriously doubt there is any chance of them being organic- they certainly are of very fine quality. I was surprised to discover that the un-split red lentils held there shape nearly perfectly even when completely tender, and so the soup I made tonight was more brothy and less stewy than Yonatan's version. If you want a richer textured soup, either use the split version of red lentils or simply blend a portion of this soup and add it back into the pot. In any case, the soup I made tonight turned out glorious. Some things we just know.