Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Smoky Lentil Soup with Chipotle Sour Cream

As often happens when I cook, a (small) chain reaction developed. I googled a recipe for cashew cream, became familiar with vegan chef Tal Ronnen, and borrowed one of his cookbooks from the library.

   I only took 1, really crummy picture because 1) I was really hungry; 2) I didn't want to keep dinner guests waiting!

One of my closest friends, and her sweet pal and colleague were visiting as a break from a long, dull drive. It was rainy, they were tired, and having worked at the hospital most of the day, I didn't have time to cook anything complex. And I was cooking for non-vegetarians.

So what did I do? Make smoky lentil soup. Lentil soup is a dish that surely makes many carnivores and dive into a steak. My husband and friends assured me (and maybe they were just being polite) that this was a winner. I was really sad I didn't make more, and it would freeze beautifully.

This recipe is adapted from The Conscious Cook, by Tal Ronnen. It was originally a split-pea soup recipe, and I de-veganized it and tweaked it some.

Smoky Lentil Soup with Chipotle Sour Cream (serves 4-6)
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 minced shallots
  • 2 leeks, sliced thin
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 3 bay leaves 
  •  2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 qt vegetable broth/faux chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 C red lentils, picked over & rinsed
  • handful chopped parsley
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • smoked salt
  • pepper
  • cilantro (optional)
  • toasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
1. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter. Add the shallots, leeks, garlic and onions and saute for about 5 minutes. 
2. Add the carrots, and saute for about 5 minutes more. Add the rosemary, bay leaf, paprika, and crushed red pepper and saute for a couple more minutes.
3. Add the broth and lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and allow to simmer, uncovered for 1 hour. 
4. Add smoked salt & pepper to taste. Add the lemon juice and parsley and cook for an additional 10 mins. Serve with a dollop of chipotle sour cream (see below) and toasted pumpkin seeds and cilantro if desired. 

For the chipotle sour cream:
  • 1 C sour cream
  • 1/2 canned chipotle with adobo sauce
  • 1 tsp adobo sauce from the can
  • salt & pepper
  • juice of 1 lime
1. Place sour cream, chipotle, adobo sauce and lime in a food processor and pulse til smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pulse again and re-season if needed. If possible, make 1 hour before serving to allow the flavors to blend.

Kitchen Notes: The chipotle sour cream really makes this soup. If you don't feel like making it, at least chop some chipotle peppers and drop them in the soup pot.

Verdict? I realize it's odd to be so excited about lentil soup but this stuff is g-o-o-d! The smoky flavors of the paprika, smoked salt and chipotle give the soup more substance without making it heavy. The chipotle sour cream is outstanding, and super simple. It will make a cameo in a couple future posts, and will keep the Cuisinart busy.

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