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Waltham Fields Community Farm (incorporated as Community Farms Outreach, Inc.) is a nonprofit farming organization focusing on sustainable food production, fresh food assistance, and on-farm education. For more information about Waltham Fields check out our website!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ginger-Garlic Lentil Soup

For Massachusetts residents, the month of April brings about many simple pleasures: continued seed starting (or visits to seedling sales like those at Waltham Fields), garden bed preparation and planting, the return of Red Sox-everything, the blossoming of trees and perennial flowers, Marathon Monday, and those few, sporadic days of unseasonably warm weather that tease us with visions of summer. Much as those days entice many to throw on tank tops, shorts, and sandals long before it seems truly appropriate, warm April days still leave us with chilly evenings and nights, never mind the more frequent rain showers we tend to experience. And so I share with you my recipe for a bold and delicious lentil soup, featuring freshly-grated ginger and garlic to help keep you in good health during our seasonal transition from the cold to the warm.

Ginger-Garlic Lentil Soup

The Ingredients:
(approximations for 6-8 servings; adjust to your needs and tastes)

  • 1/2+ c carrots, diced
  • 1/2+ c celery, diced
  • 3/4+ c onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp garlic, finely grated
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ginger, finely grated
  • 1/2 c cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 c fenugreek, dry or fresh, chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp preferred fat (I recommend chicken schmaltz if you have it; butter or oil work fine, too)
  • hot red pepper flake (optional)
  • 3+ tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 1/2 c dry brown lentils (more or less depending if you want a thick/thin soup)
  • 1 bay leaf (if not used in your stock)
  • 1/8-1/4 c vinegar (white, red, or apple cider work well)
  • 2 1/2+ quarts (80 fl oz) chicken or vegetable stock (click here to learn how to make your own)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • dash of white pepper
  • salt to taste

How to Make it:

In a large stock pot over low heat, sweat your mirepoix veggies, garlic, ginger, cilantro, and fenugreek in your preferred fat (you should barely hear your veggies hissing as they are cooking). After your veggies have softened (about 8-10 minutes), add your hot red pepper flake (if using), curry, cumin, and coriander powders, mixing well; cook this mixture for 2-3 minutes. Add your dry lentils and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Add your bay leaf, vinegar, mustard, pepper, and stock; give the pot a good stir and check if you need to add more salt. Cook over medium-high to high heat just until the soup begins to boil; reduce heat to low and simmer until the lentils become tender, about 30-40 minutes. Garnish with some fresh scallion and enjoy!

My Two Cents, in no particular order:

When making this soup, I had an open bottle of pinot noir on hand, so I did half red wine vinegar and half straight-up red wine (a good splash of each, about a 1/4 c total). Beer might work well, too, but I haven't tried it for this soup! For the garlic and ginger, I used a grater-zester, which results in a paste; if you like to have little garlic and ginger chunks in your soup, by all means forgo this step and simply mince these ingredients. An easy way to remove the skin from ginger is to scrape it off with a spoon. Mustard is a great flavor-enhancer for most soups, but should be used with discretion; you really shouldn't be able to taste the mustard! So add it little by little, say a 1/4 tsp at a time, giving the pot a good stir and tasting the soup as you go. And as with all dishes and soups, it's recommended that you add salt with each new ingredient (or group of ingredients) to best draw out their flavors. However, depending on the saltiness of your stock, you may want to add less or more. It's a good idea to taste the stock before starting your soup if you are unsure of its sodium content. If you couldn't tell by now, continuous sampling is an essential part of preparing successful meals!


Recipe and images by Rebekah Carter (2011).


Anonymous said...

Looks good. How about sharing the recipes for some of the Sprout food? I am particularly interested in the cold squash soup.

Staff Contributor said...

I think that is a great idea; I'll have to get my hands on them first, though! Thanks for the mini assignment. Stay tuned!