This recipe came from a "what do I have on hand to make a delicious, nutritious vegetarian dinner" moment. I am one of those people that stalks the bulk foods section at Oliver's Market to check out what kind of goodies are there. It's a great way to try new foods without having to buy a huge package of something if I don't like it. One day I decided "hey Lentils are pretty; I think I'll buy some," even though the couple times I had lentils they were pretty lame. So they sat in my cupboard for a couple months (they're dried -- they're not gonnna waste away) until tonight.
Makes 6 one cup servings.
1 cup of lentils - I mixed green and red together
6 cups of vegan chicken stock, vegetable stock, or regular chicken stock
1/4 cup dehyrdated onions or 1/2 cup fresh minced white onion
3 to 6 oz. tomato paste: Whole Foods' 365 brand tube is perfect
1 15oz. can diced peeled tomatoes (no salt added)
4 to 8 oz. frozen chopped spinach
1 12 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water if needed
All Spices to Taste:
3-6 Tbs cumin (I like mine a little more bitter)
2 Tbs garlic powder
1 Tbs onion powder
1-2 Tbs mild yellow curry powder
cayenne pepper to taste
sea salt to taste, if needed
1) Bring the stock to a boil. Add dehydrated onions and lentils, and garlic and onion powders, and cook on high for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium.
2) Add the tomato paste, spinach, and can of tomatoes with the juice. Stir in the cumin and curry powder, starting with a moderate amount; you can always add more seasoning. If you overseason, you can add more water and let the soup reduce down. Let cook covered over medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
The lentils for this dish are best after they take on the texture of cooked black beans. It also gives them time to soak up the flavors of the spices and tomato base. Keep tasting as you stir. Add more cumin, curry, and salt if needed. Also watch the liquid. The lentils are greedy and will soak up a lot of the liquid, but it will also evaporate from cooking, so if it starts to look like a paste instead of a stewy-soup, you need to add water or broth.
3) Top with a dallop of greek-yoghurt or sour cream, and enjoy! I'm also eating mine with a side of Mediterranean pita, warmed up with a little olive oil in a hot pan -- but any crusty Italian or Mediterranean type bread would be delicious with this soup.
4) For you carnivores, mini-meatballs, small bits of greek flavored chicken sausage, leftover lamb, goat, pork, or some shredded chicken would work well in this stew-soup.
(FYI also good at room temperature! I know cuz it got cold while I was typing this!)
FYI #2 : This is great for people dieting or on low-glycemic diets; the fiber and protein counts in lentils are astronomical, the lycopene from the tomatoes is cancer fighting, and there's no fat because we didn't sautee or fry anything. Ok ok, so the sour cream or yoghurt add some fat, but you don't HAVE to put it on. :)