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recipes, Soups and Stews

Homemade Vegan Chili

Now that Allysia and I are starting to get settled into our new Toronto life (Allysia: And we have a place to live now…yusss!), we are finally able to start spending some time being creative in the kitchen again.  There have been a few dals, lots of soups, some sammiches, and lots of delicious greens.  We have been eating a lot of what you could call ‘ethnic foods’, but this time I wanted something from my past.  Something comforting,  something really hearty.  I wanted to make chili.

Truth be told, I’m not entirely sure I have ever made homemade chili before now, which seems sort of odd.  Luckily I don’t think whipping up a batch of homemade chili really requires a recipe, so what follows is my seat-of-the-pants last-minute chili creation – feel free to modify it to your hearts’ content.

Homemade Vegan Chili
makes four servings

Ingredients:

3/4 cup dried kidney beans (or 1 1/2 cups canned)
3/4 cup dried white beans (or 1 1/2 cups canned)
1 1/2 cups dried TVP chunks
3 cups veggie broth or lightly salted water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium zucchini, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar
28 oz can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground thyme
1/2 tablespoon ground chipotle
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons lemon juice (or lime)
Directions:

1. If using dried beans, soak them overnight separately.  After the soaking, boil them until tender. Different beans have different cooking times so use separate pots.
2. Bring the veggie broth or salted water to a boil and add the TVP to rehydrate.  Remove from heat and let stand for about 20 minutes.
3. In a large pot, heat the olive oil and stir in the onion.  Sauté for about seven minutes, then add the garlic and zucchini.  Sauté for two more minutes before stirring in the brown sugar.
4. Add the can of tomatoes (including the liquid from the can) and reduce, partially covered, for 30 or so minutes.
5. Add the cooked beans, TVP, and all spices (except lemon juice).  Stir and continue cooking for another 10-20 minutes for the flavours to combine.
6. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.  Serve with vegan sour cream, cheese, and diced chives.

For the most part the recipe was just created on-the-go.  A little of this, a little of that.  I looked at the spice rack and tried to figure out what sounded good.  I love the smoky heat of chipotle peppers and a little extra cumin never hurt anyone.  The mix of beans worked well, but really you could use any beans you like.  Obviously the TVP is optional, but I do feel like the extra meaty-ness does help the recipe.  You could easily sub it out for some tofu, chickpeas, or anything, really.
Life has been pretty busy here around the Real Meal headquarters, but with a little luck everything should start to “slow down” and become “less crazy” soon.  Ha.  Yeah right.
Later.

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recipes, Soups and Stews

Roasted Broccoli Soup

A few weeks ago I made an incredible grilled cheese sandwich and partnered it with a spur-of-the-moment roasted soup.  My go-to soup has long been a tomato-based affair, but this time I felt like something different.  Cream-based soups always make great dippers, but I definitely wanted nothing but fresh veggies in my bowl.  I hunted through the food I had available until I found exactly what I was craving.

Roasted Broccoli Soup
Makes 3 portions of very thick soup, or 4 portions of thinner soup

1 russet potato, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 head of garlic, peeled
3 cups broccoli florets, broken up
2 cups zucchini, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil

3-4 cups veggie broth
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/8 cup tarragon, chopped
lots of fresh black pepper
salt (might not be needed, depending on your broth)

Directions

1. Set your oven to 400 degrees.  Toss the onion, garlic, and potato in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss them onto a roasting pan.  Put the root veggies in the oven for 20 minutes.

2. Tear your broccoli into chunks and chop the zucchini up a little.  No need for pretty looking pieces, everything will hit the blender eventually.  Toss the broccoli and zucchini in the remaining oil.  After those first twenty minutes have elapsed, add the green veggies to the roaster and return to the oven for another 40 minutes.  Toss the veggies around the pan a couple times to even out the browning.

3. When the veggies are finished, remove the pan from the oven and splash some of the veggie broth in it to release all those delicious brown bits.  Toss the veggies and all remaining ingredients in a high-speed blender.  Blend until it reaches your desired texture (hearty and chunky or silky smooth), adding more veggie broth as desired.

Since my soup was destined for dipping I used only 3 cups of veggie broth.  This left me with a very thick soup that clung perfectly to the dunked sandwich.  The depth of flavor that comes from roasted soups is always incredible, but there was an especially great balance in the final product.  The dark, bitter flavors of the roasted greens cut the sweetness of the roasted onions and garlic, while the lemon juice and tarragon shocked the soup to life.  Roasted soups should probably be a part of everyone’s kitchen lexicon.

Later days.

recipes, Soups and Stews

Roasted Tomato Soup

Ermahgerd! My very own contributor account!  As was probably already apparent in this post, one of my favorite things to do with our new blender is to make delicious, creamy soups.  I have already spoken on my hatred for canned tomato soups and my love of raw or almost raw tomato soups, but this week I felt like trying something a little different.

I’ve always found that one of the best ways to pull flavor out of vegetables is to roast them. Quick, high-heat roasting and slower, low-heat roasting are both great ways to improve the richness and complexity of many different veggies.  Things like root vegetables get roasted all the time, but not everyone has tried roasting other, less likely candidates – like tomatoes. Which is a shame, because roasted tomatoes are infinitely more flavorful than raw or stewed.  And since they’re so flavorful roasted, this soup needs very little else in terms of seasoning to taste amazing.

Roasted Tomato Soup
Serves 2

Ingredients:

10 medium to tomatoes, preferably still on the vine
1 large onion
6 cloves of garlic
3 sprigs of rosemary
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup vegetable broth (or more for a thinner soup)
Sea salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, if desired
Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees and oil a roasting pan.  Place your tomatoes into the pan and drizzle with the olive oil.  Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper then place them in the oven for an hour and a half.
2. While the tomatoes are roasting, peel the garlic and roughly chop the onion into large pieces.  When the tomatoes have been roasting for an hour and a half, remove them and add the garlic, onion, and two sprigs of rosemary to the pan.  Return it to the oven and roast for another one to one and a half hours.
3. After the roasting is completed, remove the rosemary from the pan.  Place the tomatoes, onion, and garlic into the blender with the broth, cayenne, and remaining rosemary sprig.  Purée until smooth.

Gorgeous tomatoes on the vine, pre- and post-roasting.

Even though this soup sees a lot of time in the oven (up to three hours), it does not involve much active cooking at all – it’s great to make if you have a leisurely morning or afternoon available.

One of my favorite things to do with a soup like this is to eat it with a nice, crispy sandwich.  Grilled cheese (Daiya, of course) with avocado was my choice for today, which isn’t the healthiest option, but it’s certainly delicious.  Allysia may prefer to dip her grilled cheese into a pile of ketchup, but a bowl of fresh tomato soup is always my dip of choice.  That’s it for today – see you guys/gals next time!
food and product reviews, recipes, Soups and Stews, Uncategorized

Blendtec Unboxing and Delicious Cauliflower Soup

On Monday this week I got one of the best surprises of my life.  I arrived home from work to see a little piece of paper sticking out of my mailbox – a little piece of paper that told me I had a parcel waiting at the post office.  I had, of course, been expecting this, but I had not entirely expected it to arrive one day early.  The drive to the post office was full of excitement and anticipation, and the drive box home more so.  Once I got back into my house I sat down with my package, my camera, and my iPad, and had to share this momentous occasion with Allysia over Skype.  So, once we were both good and ready, we looked at what sat in front of us.

Even the sight of the box still fills me with happiness.

Popping the box open reveals the sweet treasure inside.

First up is the information package.  A blender-based cookbook, warranty information, and a DVD!

The cookbook itself is in full color, coil-bound, and even hard cover!  In a surprising moment of awesomeness, I opened the book to a random page and saw a recipe for cauliflower soup.  Allysia and I had just talked about making cauliflower soup the previous day – it seemed like a sign.

Next up is probably the most exciting part: the blender bowl.

We opted to go for the slightly newer and slightly more expensive Wildside blender jar.  This jar has a few advantages over the standard Fourside jar.  It has a roomy 3 quart volume and a special shape involving a fifth side in the blender jar.  This fifth side apparently shifts the blending vortex a bit so it mixes ingredients much more efficiently.

The blender lid followed the jar.  Shiny and gorgeous.

Another exciting moment: the blender base.  While the normal Blendtec blender is beautiful, we choose to upgrade to the Designer Series (for the same price as the regular blender!)  You can’t get these delivered to Canada through the Blendtec website, but we ordered from Upaya Naturals and got it in only a few days!

The biggest reason we got the Designer Series, aside from the awesome red color, is the touch screen on the base.  All of the controls are operated through this screen, and it just looks solid black when turned off.  It looks cool, works well, and talk about easy to clean!

And now we have a little before and after photo.  Definitely an upgrade.  High-end blenders tend to get a bad rap for being massively huge and taking up too much counter space (especially a certain other brand of blender), but comparing the Blendtec to a cheap Walmart blender, the size different isn’t anything absurd.

Once the blender was powered up it became even more lovely.  The six picture buttons correspond to preprogrammed blending cycles.  From left to right they are for: mixing batters, crushing ice, making smoothies, creating ice creams, juicing produce, and blending/cooking soups.  The large slider at the bottom of the faceplate allows you to select a blending speed manually and speed it up/slow it down at will.  The bottom-right button, shaped like a heartbeat monitor, is the pulse button (clever!).

The blender itself is amazing.  The blending cycles work really well – they speed up/slow down the blades automatically, allows the blender to chop through rough ingredients before speeding up to blend.  One thing that I noticed is that this blender does not create as much heat a other high-speed blenders.  The Designer Series has some improved venting which allows it to blend without heating the ingredients too much.  Great news for smoothie lovers and raw foodists alike!  Another interesting feature becomes apparent only when the blender is powered up.  For the first few seconds a number will flash onto the screen.  This number is the total number of times the blender has been used.  We have owned ours for less than forty-eight hours now, and it has been used twelve times.

One of the first things I wanted to do with this blender was create a smooth and awesome blended soup using some of the random ingredients I had laying around.

Creamy Corn and Cauliflower Soup
yields 2 large servings
1 medium sized head of cauliflower (about 3 cups, roughly chopped)
2 medium sized potatoes (about 1 cup, roughly chopped)
2 ears of fresh corn
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground thyme (fresh would work better, but alas, I had none available)
salt and pepper, to taste
Directions:

1. Boil a pot of water large enough to hold the potato, cauliflower, and corn.  Add the potato first, then the cauliflower, then the corn so everything cooks the appropriate amount of time.
2. Pan steam (or saute) the onions and garlic.

3. When the veggies are cooked, drain the water.  Cut the kernels off of the corn cobs and place all the ingredients in a blender jar.  Use only 3 cups of veggie broth to start, adding more until the desired consistency is reached.  Blend until smooth.

Alternatively, you could save some of the cooked veggie and stir them into the soup after blending for a slightly chunkier soup.

A little side note: in keeping with our super healthy eating plan I opted to boil and steam the veggies for this soup.  I can only assume that roasting the corn, potato, and cauliflower would make the soup even more incredible.

Apparently being able to blend corn completely perfectly is a rare thing indeed.  The Blendtec did it with ease.  The soup was smooth after about thirty seconds of blending.  After struggling with a super cheap blender for so long, it is so nice to have access to perfectly smooth soups and smoothies.  I’m a big fan of green smoothies in the morning, and this blender destroys kale leaves like nobody’s business.  I love our blender like a newborn child. Peace out.

recipes, Soups and Stews

Fresh Tomato Soup

A blog post coming all the way from Regina, Saskatchewan!  Let me start this by saying that my trip to Austin was amazing.  I mean, I got to hang out with Allysia just about constantly (which was certainly the highlight of the trip, as I keep telling everyone), and then there is the city itself.  Austin is an amazing city, and it is filled with amazing produce.  The farmers’ markets (plural!) have great veggies and homemade things, but even the supermarkets are filled with gorgeous greens and big selections.

At one point during the trip I promised Allysia a fresh tomato-based soup.  She wouldn’t let me forget this fact, and a few days later we ended up picking up the necessary ingredients and I went to work.

Fresh Tomato Soup
Serves 2

Ingredients:

4 large heirloom tomatoes
2 medium shallots, diced small
1 celery stick, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 dried chipotle pepper, split in half
1/2 tbsp Better Than Boullion
2 sprigs rosemary
1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp smoked salt

Directions:

1. Remove the stems from the tomatoes and cut them into quarters.  Toss the pieces in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.  If using a cheaper blender, you will need to peel the tomatoes first.

2. Empty the contents of the blender into a pot and add the shallots, celery, garlic, and chipotle.  When you split the chiptole the seeds will fall out.  Add the seeds to the soup for a little spicy kick, or leave the seeds out for a milder soup.  I used almost all of the seeds and the soup has a little kick, but was certainly not spicy.

3. Stir in about half a tablespoon of Better Than Boullion vegetable broth paste.  Bring the soup to a boil and then lower the heat.  Simmer for at least ten minutes, ideally twenty to forty.

4. Strip the rosemary leaves from the twigs and roughly chop them.  Add them to the pot and simmer for another ten minutes.

5. When the soup is finished cooking, stir in the salt, pepper, and basil.  Remove the chipotle (leave the seeds) from the pot.  Pour the soup back into the blender and blend until smooth.

We don’t normally like tomato soup, but I think that is usually due to execution and history rather than concept.  The tomato soups of our collective childhoods were a simple canned affair.  Bland and over-salted, with few pronounceable ingredients.  This fresh soup is just the opposite.  It has a metric tonne of flavor and is still incredibly easy to produce.  I am sure a raw version could even be created by  only changing a few amounts.  Serve with some kind of dip-able sandwich for pure awesomeness.

Later.

recipes, Soups and Stews

The Easiest Vegetable Curry

Yo!

So as you guys know, I just moved to Austin last week to go to the Natural Epicurean cooking school.  I’ll talk more about that on Friday, but today I wanted to talk about one of my biggest challenges thus far – cooking with a severely limited pantry.

Since I’m without a car, grocery trips need to be short lest I break my back, which means that I’ve done a couple small produce runs and a pantry staple trip.  I have basics like olive oil, salt and pepper, and some veggies (mainly hearty ones), but not much else.  Because of that, I’ve been trying to come up with creative ways to use my limited amounts of food.

In my opinion, nothing is easier than curry.  You take some random veggies, cook ’em with aromatics and curry powder, and you’ve got a warming, flavorful meal with minimal ingredients.  I know the ingredient list doesn’t look very minimal, but that’s just because it’s got a lot of different veggies (like onions, carrot, cabbage, etc).

You can get really fancy with curry by toasting spices and making your own blends, but I kept this as simple as possible due to necessity.  Feel free to swap out some of the veggies for what you’ve got around, but do try to keep the onion/garlic/ginger thing happening, since they contribute lots of flavor.  And beans, no matter which kind you use, add a nice boost of protein.

Serve with brown rice and a few fun toppings for a complete, hearty and healthy meal.

The Easiest Vegetable Curry
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, grated or minced
1 generous teaspoon good-quality curry powder
4 cups vegetable broth
1 large carrot, chopped
2 cups shredded green cabbage
2 small yams, peeled and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups – potatoes and winter squash work well too)
2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas
Salt and pepper, to taste

For serving (use any or all):

Cooked brown rice
Sliced avocado
Fresh diced tomato
Cilantro
Hot sauce (like Sriracha)
Chutney (mango chutney would be awesome)

Directions:

1.  In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute until softened, about five minutes.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook a couple more minutes.  Stir in the curry powder for about a minute, and then add the vegetable broth.  Crank up the heat to high and add the carrot, cabbage, yam and chickpeas.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until everything is fully cooked, about 30 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

2.  Add a small serving of rice into a large soup bowl, and ladle in as much curry as you want.  Top with any of the serving goodies like avocado, cilantro and hot sauce.  Enjoy!

After spending a day in the kitchen, it’s nice to come home and throw together a big pot of goodness without too much effort.  Making a vegetable curry and rice takes time, but the majority of that is hands-off time where you can study or send emails or investigate Pinterest.

School and hanging out with Michael via Skype has been taking up most of my time this week, so I apologize if I’ve been quiet in the blog world – I’m still reading what you guys are up to, but I haven’t quite settled in a rhythm yet.  Take care, and I’ll catch up with y’all on Friday!

recipes, Soups and Stews

Ethiopian Mild Split Pea Stew

Hey there!

This next stew is a continuation of my Ethiopian feast, which has so far included a cabbage and carrot dish and a red lentil stew.  Woo hoo!

This was everyone’s favorite, and also the one that I totally improvised.  Don’t you love it when that happens?  It’s simple as can be, too – the ingredient list is short and the whole thing is very non-fussy.  The biggest challenge is waiting for the split peas to cook down into a soft, stewy texture.  But it only takes about an hour, so no biggie.

Ethiopian Mild Split Pea Stew
Makes about 6 small servings

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 cups water
1 cup yellow split peas, rinsed
Salt, to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon)

Directions:

1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, ginger and turmeric and cook for a few more minutes until very fragrant.  Add the water and split peas, bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer for about an hour, until an awesome stewy texture is achieved.  Stir the mixture occasionally, especially toward the end of the cooking time.  Add salt to taste and enjoy!

Well I’m gonna keep this post short and sweet today since I’ve got work and a performance to prepare for.  Happy Wednesday, folks!

recipes, Soups and Stews

Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew (Misir Wat)

Another recipe I cooked up for my Ethiopian feast, in addition to yesterday’s Cabbage and Carrots, was the obligatory red lentil stew, also known as misir wat.  Regina’s Ethiopian restaurant always has some of this goodness at their lunch buffets, and I knew the feast wouldn’t be complete without it.

The recipe is another one courtesy the newest Food and Wine magazine, and can be found online here.  Like the cabbage and carrots recipe, I cut this one in half and it was still plenty bountiful.  The same lessons as before apply – be generous with the oil, salt and aromatics (garlic, onion, ginger).  The only real change I made to this was to sub an equal amount of ground thyme for the ground nigella seeds (couldn’t find ’em) – worked like a dream.

Berbere is a red Ethiopian spice blend that contains stuff like chili peppers, fenugreek, ginger and cardamom.  It is very fragrant and varies in spiciness depending on the brand.  The type I use is from the store and is quite spicy, though a homemade version would be as easy as this.  Berbere makes a great addition to soups and stews if you’re looking to switch up your same-old curry powder routine!

In other news, this is what my balcony view looked like today…

(Who’s driving on the grass?!)

Yup, that there is the first snowfall of the season.  Too bad it didn’t hold off until after Halloween!  Though I really can’t complain, because Alberta and northern Saskatchewan got pummeled with crazy snowstorms and this is really just a polite sprinkling of the stuff.  Ahh, it won’t be long until I’m brushing off heaps of snow from my car and working my arm muscles to scrape off thick layers of ice from the windows.  Good ol’ winter.

In other OTHER news, and significantly more exciting, check out what arrived in the mail today!

Yup.  Yup x 1000.  

My band’s CD!  You can check out our page – the CD is available for download (or free streaming!) there.  It won’t be long until we exist on iTunes, too!  I’ll keep you posted on that front.

How awesome is that?  Look how badass we are!  We gonna mess stuff up!  If you’re interested in having a hard copy of the album, drop me a line and we can work something out.

Happy Tuesday, all!  I’m pretty confident mine can’t get much better. 🙂

recipes, Soups and Stews

MoFo 2: MoFo Harder!

So before the real meat of this post starts (heh heh) I should warn you that I, once again, am not Allysia.  In matter of fact I am still Mike, and I will be blogging once or twice a week during this crazy month.  I could act all chivalrous and say that I am blogging to take some of the pressure off of your regular writer, but she could handle it.  I’m doing it because food is delicious, and blogging about it is kind of fun.
Today (yesterday) I decided that I had more time than money, so I would try making something cheap and time consuming: french onion soup!  Possibly one of the simplest ingredient lists ever, but time consuming enough so as to be prohibitive.  French Onion Soup is one of those things that I have always wanted to try making.  The thought of the super-caramelized onions and the rich broth were enough to push me into cooking mode.
French Onion Soup
-makes two meal-sized portions, or six appetizer-sized portions-
3 medium onions
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup very dry white wine
1 ounce scotch
3 cups vegetable broth
salt/pepper to taste
To begin, cut your onions into fairly thin slices (about 1/8″), trying to keep them uniform.  Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add the oil.  Once the oil is hot, add all the onions, stirring every few minutes.  Add a few teaspoons of salt to help the onions release their water. After 15 minutes, you can stir less frequently.  The onions will need to caramelize until they are a very deep brown color.  This should take between 40 and 50 minutes.  Don’t worry about little scorches or burns on the onions, it all just adds to the depth of flavor.  Near the end of the time you will need to stir more frequently.
Once the onions are done caramelizing it is time to deglaze the pan!  Traditionally this would be done with a cup of dry sherry, but I didn’t have any on hand, so I used a cup of very dry wine and a shot of smoky, peated scotch to add some complexity.  Crank the heat up, add the booze, and scrape the pan with a wooden spoon to mix up the onion remnants.  Add the broth and the salt/pepper and simmer for another 10 minutes to combine everything and boil off a little extra liquid.

Traditionally there is only one way to serve french onion soup: top it with a slice of baguette, cover it with cheese, and stick it in the broiler.  I decided to modify our soup a little bit by topping the baguette with hummus (from the store) and tomatoes (from my grandma’s garden).  Who says you can’t mix Mediterranean toppings with classic French cooking?  The bread and hummus added a little heft to the brothy soup.  The final verdict?  Deep and complex, slightly sweet due to the sugars in the onions, overall the best french onion soup I’ve ever had.  And there were a few small bonuses to go along with the wonderful meal: the soup only requires 250 mL of wine, which leave 500 mL left for… other uses, and the fact that our house smelled like caramelized onions for the rest of the day.  Foodwin.

Laters.

recipes, Soups and Stews

Red Lentil Soup

Red lentils, how I love thee!
If you’re like me and frequently forget to soak beans overnight, red lentils are awesome because they’re one of the few legumes that cook up quickly.  As in, 20-30 minutes, no soaking required.  
So red lentils have saved me on many occasions when I want something protein-y in my meal, but have no tofu (or patience).  They’re great tossed in soups, stews and tomato-based pasta sauces, and I’ve even gone so far as to make thick spreads out of them (think along the lines of hummus, but not chickpeas).  
Today, I made soup.  My requirements for soup are typically that they’re easy, fast, and use as few ingredients as possible – I don’t want to be slavin’ over no soup!  This one succeeds on all fronts, and manages to be completely yumtacular – very hearty and warming, perfect for this lovely weather we sometimes have.
(Saskatchewan is climatically bi-polar.  Case in point: today’s high is 15 C in all of its sunny glory, while tomorrow’s high is 0 C with snow.)

Red Lentil Soup
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, sliced into thin semi-circles
1 teaspoon peeled and diced ginger
2 medium potatoes, chopped small
1 teaspoon garam masala (berbere is also amazing in this!)
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
4 cups vegetable broth
Squeeze of fresh lime juice (about 1 teaspoon)
Salt, to taste (depends on how salty your broth is)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, for serving
Hot sauce, for serving

Directions:

1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat and add the onion, garlic, carrots, ginger and potatoes, chopping as you go.  Stir in the teaspoon of garam masala and cook for 30 seconds or so, and then add the red lentils and vegetable broth.  Crank up the heat and bring the soup to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer for 20 minutes or so, until the lentils and potatoes are tender.

2.  Transfer about half of the soup mixture to a blender and puree, being sure to leave an opening for steam to escape.  Return the pureed mixture back to the soup pot and stir.  Let it cool down a little, and then add the lime.  Do the ol’ taste test to see if it needs more salt.  Serve in a bowl topped with chopped cilantro and some hot sauce – I always tend to go for Sriracha because it’s just so damn good.  And depending on your heat tolerance, you can make it as spicy or mild as you like!  But do add a little hot sauce, okay?  Please?

I’m very fond of the half-pureed, half-chunky soup texture – it really is the best of both worlds.  I tend not to love completely smooth soups unless there’s fun toppings like diced veggies, but then it’s no longer a completely smooth soup so perhaps that doesn’t count.  Brothy soups are all well and good too, but sometimes they just don’t feel hearty enough.  The half-puree saves the day!  Yeah, I totally had to go for that rhyme.
Wishing you all a stellar weekend!