International Red Lentil Soup

A chef I happened upon at the grocery store gave me this recipe, which I recited back to him several times to commit to memory. I call it International Red Lentil Soup because it traveled to several countries before it reached me in Dallas.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 white onion, diced well
  • 1 nest egg angel hair pasta
  • 4 cups water
  • ½ cup red lentils (dry measure)
  • 1 whole organic lemon juice
  • 1 ½ tsp tumeric
  • 1 ½ tsp curry (punjab)
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 ½ tsp salt

COOK

  • Put onion in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for about a minute, no longer.
  • Crumble angel hair nest and stir into pan.
  • Add the water.
  • Next, rinse the red lentils really, really well, and add them to the pan.
  • Add the lemon juice & spices.
  • Cook, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

The lentils get soft and almost disintegrate when the soup is finished. It smells divine and tastes even better. This is a fabulous dry goods recipe to have on hand!

This soup is my first experience with lentils – the gentleman who gave it to me was in the spice department when I was looking for ground ginger. We began talking, and in about 15 minutes time, he had loaded my basket with the items for this soup and given me instructions on how to make it!

His biography: He is an Iraqi who studied culinary arts in Italy and owned a restaurant in Sweden. International indeed!

Thank you, sir!

the slow cooker bean & vegetable chili

Mmmmm….I used my slow cooker for the first time this weekend. On the menu – a bean and vegetable chili!

I’ve been trying to eat a lot more meatless dishes lately; it’s part of my campaign of self-improvement: learning to cook and eating better. My food choices are improving, but I still have a preference for beef over chicken or fish! I love all the bad things in life, it seems 🙂

Beans are a filling alternative to meat that doesn’t have an odd name to tweak my food OCD (quinoa? QUINOA??), so I snapped up a bunch of dried beans the other day. I would have gone with canned, but from my experience, fresh foods way outrank canned foods – and cost less, as well! I’m not sure what all these varieties I’ve purchased are, but I’m going to research – and hey, I could always make a 3 bean salad.

I meant to have the chili finished by Saturday evening, but I didn’t realize that cooking beans was such a time-consuming process. When I woke Saturday morning, I goofed off until 1 or so, and then read how to cook beans (the chili recipe only said “cook beans according to package instructions”). Oops. And so then I soaked the beans for four hours, and simmered them for 90 minutes.

Preparing the vegetables to sautee, I watched many youtube videos on “how to mince garlic” and “how to chop bell pepper.” By the time it asked me for dice potatoes, I shook my head, did something more similar to mincing, and threw them in the pan.

Mincing rather than dicing wasn’t the only change I made to the recipe. Because I like my food spicy, I added a jalapeno pepper to the vegetables, and also threw in an 1/8th teaspoon of my favorite “ghost pepper” sauce – that is just slightly more than I will use in a normal dish, but considering this was going into a large crockpot, I assumed that it would spread out.

a sauce pan with tomatoes, potatoes, red bell pepper, jalapeno, onion, and garlic in it

the final prep step before I put everything in the slow cooker – I needed a bigger pan! I did a lot of stirring and turning over

I woke up this morning and immediately tasted my creation. Success! It was very well flavored – except – well. It wasn’t bland, for sure, but there was no hint of spiciness whatsoever in my chili. I grabbed the bottle of ghost pepper sauce, filled a teaspoon, threw it in, and stirred. I’m assuming the results are going to be much more spicy than before – maybe too spicy for some, but that is what sides like cole slaw and cornbread are for.

conclusion
I have a lot of chili! I’m definitely glad for my freezer bags – tonight, I’ll be dishing this out and stacking it in the freezer for those days when I simply don’t feel like cooking. I’m looking for more recipes like that, so if you have any “frozen dinner” recipes, please share!

I think next time, I’ll definitely add more chili powder and other assorted spices. It had a full taste, but I wanted bolder flavors. Any suggestions as to what I could add? Is one jalapeno enough, or should I add 2? I picked up a habenero bbq sauce (another local production) the other day that I think would add a delicious flavor to this – but I think I’d want it to be in a chili with meat.

Read on for the bean & begetable slow cooker recipe