I am officially on holiday (a.k.a vacation) and boy does it feel nice. As much as I love what I do the thought of grocery shopping for 5 instead of 40 and making one batch of soup instead of 10 is almost as exciting as burying my bare feet in sand while sipping a pina colada. Not that I’m going anywhere. But the only people I will be cooking for over the next few weeks are my beloved family. Big sigh….
Unfortunately, just as I put on the brakes and started gliding into a more relaxing way of life my immune system finally saw it’s chance to hibernate and a winter cold, cough, sore throat and general miserableness settled over me like new fallen snow. Great. Finally on holiday and sick as a dog……
But, as they say, you can take the cook out of the kitchen but you can’t take the kitchen out of the cook (I actually don’t think they say that – it doesn’t make sense – but you get my point.) So, as I sat on my sofa, wrapped in a blanket and sipping herbal tea saturated with honey it only took me about 5 minutes before I started daydreaming about what soup might make me feel better.
In the end I settled on Spiced Lentil with Yogurt and Mint for the following reasons: 1) it’s delicious 2) it’s nutritious 3) I had all the ingredients in my pantry and fridge and 4) I have a lovely client who has asked for the recipe before she has the unfortunate burden of heading to the Alps for the winter ski season (poor thing!) so I figured I would kill a few birds with one stone (another saying that makes no sense – who wants to kill birds????)
This soup really does get better with time so if you can make it the day before it is well worth it. It gives the spices time to really blend and intensify in flavor. But if you can’t stop yourself from digging in the minute it is ready I can’t blame you and it will still be delish!
The base of the soup is the lentils but you have a bit of freedom when you are deciding on which root vegetable to add. I am a big fan of beets and rutabaga. One of my favorite things about winter is mashed rutabaga with nothing but a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Yum! But, if you are after visual appeal the beetroots turn the soup a gorgeous red color and lend an earthiness to the spice mixture.
- 1 Tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 Tablespoon black mustard seeds
- 2 Tablespoons coriander seeds
- 2 Tablespoons ground turmeric
- a Swig of olive oil
- ½ teaspoon crushed chiles (optional)
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup onions, finely chopped (about l large onion)
- 1 cup carrots, finely chopped ((about 2 large or 3 medium)
- 8 oz (225 g) diced beetroot or rutabaga
- 1 cup (240 ml) white wine
- 10 cups (2.35 liters) vegetable stock
- 8 oz (225g) orange lentils
- 2 small or 1 large potato
- 4 Tablespoons minced ginger
- 1-2 teaspoons salt
- 1-2 tablespoons white wine or rice wine vinegar
- Plain yogurt
- Chopped fresh mint
- Place the peppercorns, mustard and coriander seeds in a small frying pan and toast until fragrant. Using a spice mill or mortar and pestle grind the seeds to a fine powder. Mix with the turmeric and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot and sauté the optional chile flakes, garlic, onions over medium heat until aromatic and soft. Add 1 tablespoon of the spice mix, the carrots and beetroot and sauté another 5-7 minutes, being careful not to burn the spices.
- Add the wine and stock and bring to a rolling boil. Add the lentils, potato and ginger and bring back to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, 15-20 minutes until the lentils and potato are soft. At this point you can keep the soup chunky or purée with an immersion blender. I like to partially purée and keep the rest chunky. Season to taste with salt and vinegar.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and top each portion with a dollop of yogurt and chopped fresh mint.