Sunday, August 3, 2008

Coriander-Orange-Scented Red Lentil Soup

I made this over the weekend knowing that I could probably get through the work week on the leftovers. Also i had a day old loaf of bread on the counter and really wanted something to soak up with it. This recipe is out of "How to Eat Supper".

Fresh Coriander
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
3 Medium onions - chopped
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
4 large garlic cloves
1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and fine chopped
2 teaspoons ground coriander seed
Zest and juice of 1 orange
One 14 oz. can of vegetable or chicken broth
2 1/2 cups water
3/4 cups red lentils
Juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon
2/3 to 1 cup additional orange juice

Recipe modifications: The store didn't have any fresh coriander, so I had to do without. They also didn't have any red lentils, so i had to settle for green - small change overall I think, though it kind of invalidates the name. Oh I also used more garlic, but then garlic is awesome and I always use more garlic.

  • 1. Wash and dry the bunch of Coriander. Cut off bottom 2 to 3 inches of the stems and chop them fine, set aside.

  • 2. Generously film the bottom of a 4 quart saucepan with olive oil and heat it over high heat. Stir in two thirds of the onions, and season with salt and pepper. Saute until the onions begin to brown. Blend in the coriander stems, garlic, ginger, ground coriander seed, and the orange zest. Saute for about 20 seconds over high heat or until fragrant. Scrape in bowl and set aside.

Make sure you really grind down those coriander seeds, or they'll show up in the final product. Also be sure to slice the orange zest smaller than I have in that picture.. or you'll have chunks of it visible in the finished soup. I'm sure using a zester or grater would also work, but I've always found it faster to zest with a peeler and then chop it down with a regular knife.

  • 3.Pour the broth, water, lentils, and the remaining onions into the same saucepan. Bring to a gentle bubble, partially cover and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the lentils are nearly tender. Add the sauteed seasonings and additional salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pot tightly and simmer for another 15 minutes to blend the flavors.
I had to simmer this for a lot longer than the 15 minutes on the recipe, I believe it was closer to 25 minutes - and even then the lentils were not fully tender. This may be because of the green lentil substitution.

  • 4. Just before serving, stir in the juice from half a lemon, the juice of the zested orange, and the additional orange juice to taste.
  • 5. Scatter the coriander tops over the soup, serve.

Rating: As I made it (not entirely correctly) I would rate this recipe something like a 5/10. It wasn't a bad recipe, I'm just not entirely sure that lentil soup is my thing (minus an unbelievable pureed lentil soup I had in Baku, Azerbaijan.. I still dream of it). The orange and coriander provides an interesting contrast to the saltiness of the vegetable broth, and the addition of the aromatic spices, garlic and ginger really help this out. I probably wouldn't make this again for myself, but would definiately consider it for vegan guests, or with a few modifications.

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