Digging through my cupboard for a red box of Minute Tapioca, which I thought I had but didn't, I came across half a bag of red lentils, which I didn't think I had but apparently do. Joy! Without even needing to go to the grocery store I can make a batch of my new favorite soup. What I like best about this recipe I'm not sure. Perhaps its the comforting smoothness or bright yellow color of pureed red lentils (they dissolve in a way green/brown lentils don't), potatoes, and carrots? Perhaps its that all the other ingredients are simply carriers of lots of lemon and garlic? Or perhaps its because anything called "potage" is appealing in this cold winter (although the recipe says it can be eaten cold, with even more lemon, so it may be good for summer fare as well). The cookbook's description of the soup says that it is a traditional Jewish soup sometimes called "Esau's Soup." Here's the recipe:
Potage of Lentils
3 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 or 2 carrots, sliced
8 garlic cloves, chopped
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 generous cup red lentils, rinsed
4 cups vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1 or 2 lemons, juiced (go with 2)
1/2 tsp cumin, or to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
Lemon slices and chopped parsley for garnish
1. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in the celery, carrots, half the garlic and all the potato. Cook for a few minutes until beginning to soften.
2. Add the lentils and stock to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the potato and lentils are tender.
3. Add the bay leaves, remaining garlic and half the lemon juice to the pan and cook the soup for a further 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves. Stir in the remaining lemon juice.
4. Pour the soup into a food processor or blender and process until smooth (may need to be done in batches). Pour the soup back into the pan, stir in the cumin and cayenne pepper, and season with salt and pepper.
5. Ladle the soup into bowls and top each portion with lemon slices and sprinkling of chopped parsley.
Source: The Complete Book of 400 Soups. Annes Sheasby, ed. London: Hermes House, 2008.