Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Filling Soup for a Fall Day

Soups are one of our favorite aspects of fall. They also provide a great opportunity to use the garden produce that is needing to be harvested this time of year. We have had tremendous success growing carrots in our garden. I'm not really a fan of peeling and chopping carrots for freezing or canning so I'm always glad to find a soup recipe that includes carrots. 
The recipe that I will be sharing is one that features not only carrots, but lentils and garbanzo beans as well. It also includes curry powder. While we are not exactly the "earthy" vegetarian types, this is a soup that we very much enjoy. The inclusion of the curry powder leaves the whole house smelling good and provides a nice accent to the flavors of the vegetables. I will admit that this isn't the most "aesthetically pleasing" soup that I have prepared, but it is quickly becoming a fall favorite with us.
Before I proceed to the recipe, a quick word about lentils…
Lentils are a member of the legume family and were among the first crops that were cultivated in the Near East. They are commonly consumed in western and southern Asia as well as in the Mediterranean region. Among legumes, their protein content is second to that of the soybean. Lentils grow on short busy plants that produce pods. The pods typically contain two seeds. Lentils are available in multiple colors, depending on the specific variety.
Lentil plants

Three colors of lentils

In India, lentils are commonly prepared with rice, often as part of a curry dish. In Ethiopia, lentils are include in a stew that is often the first solid food fed to babies. You may be surprised to learn that the top lentil-producing country in the world is … Canada. That's right. The province of Saskatchewan produces 99% of the nearly 2 million metric tons of lentils grown in Canada each year.
So, let's make some curried carrot and lentil soup …
Here are the ingredients:

Soup base:
2 tbsp olive oil - add more if needed
1 medium onion, chopped
4-5 carrots, chopped
2 large garlic cloves
2 tablespoons curry powder (feel free to add more to taste)
2 cups lentils
2 quarts of water - add more as needed. I would imagine that you could include a vegetable stock or chicken broth if you wanted. We have just used water.

Chickpea puree (to be added after the lentils have cooked through)
2 16-ounce cans chickpeas
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1-2 garlic cloves (optional)

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until the onion is nearly translucent. Add the carrots and garlic and continue to cook until the carrots are starting to become soft. Add the curry powder and stir until fragrant. Add the lentils and water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer until the lentils are tender, which will take approximately 30 minutes. Add additional water as needed. 

Here is the amount of carrots I used from the garden. You will see that they are various sizes. I chose a combination that would be equivalent to about 4 large carrots from the store.
We like this Hot Madras curry powder. It's easy to find in the grocery store.
I'm not sure what "variety" or "color" you would call these lentils. They were what was available in the dried beans section of the grocery store and labeled as "lentils."
While the soup is cooking, prepare the chickpea puree:
Puree the chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, water, and additional garlic together. The mixture will look much like hummus only you wouldn't have included tahini, a key ingredient in hummus along with the additional seasonings.
Once the lentils have cooked, stir the puree into the soup. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional curry powder. Add additional liquid as desired.
Serve with a salad and warm bread. 
The amounts that I provided here will make a pretty big pot of soup. You can look forward to 1) being able to feed a large group, 2) leftovers for a few nights, or 3) freezing some of the extra for a ready-to-go meal at another date and time.