Monday, February 28, 2011

Lemon Chickpea Lentil Soup

You may have noticed that I don’t make a lot of sandwiches or salads on my blog. This is due to my one particular idiosyncrasy, I don’t enjoy cold food. It doesn’t feel like a meal to me unless something has been steamed, sautéed, broiled, baked, or pan fried. The only exception to this is possibly sushi, but I generally order my sushi with some Vegetable Tempura to round it out. I can’t explain it, and believe me, I’ve tried. Many a friend or acquaintance has interrogated me on this quirk. So, if you’re a sandwiches and salads kind of vegan, then this is not the food blog for you. Because, ‘round here we like soups, stir frys, stews, and and sautés.

One thing that continually inspires me is how creative vegan chefs are. The simple margin of a plant based diet serves to energize great chefs to come up with satisfying, nutritious vegan dishes. Dreena Burton is one such chef, which she demonstrates in her book, Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan. This is the first recipe I’ve tried from her cookbook, and it is one of the best soups I’ve ever had. I’m still drooling over it as I write. Thick, warm, and rich, it’s perfect for winter; but, it’s also bright, citrusy, and healthy, making it an ideal spring dinner. It even freezes well, so make extra for later!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 cup dry red lentils
2 small cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small can diced tomatoes
2 zucchini, diced
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrot, and sauté until tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more. Add the cumin seeds, paprika, salt and pepper, oregano, and thyme, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the lentils, 1 can of chickpeas, tomatoes, zucchini, vegetable stock, water, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Remove the bay leaves. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup until it is thick, but not smooth. Add the second can of chickpeas and the lemon juice. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve immediately with a side of Herbed Garlic Bread.