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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Red Lentil and Tomato Soup

Because sometimes I second guess myself.

It's been kind of a crazy week.  I finally landed a second job, I've been working on research for a grad student, I celebrated my birthday (shenanigans!), and reconnected with a friend.  Yay productivity!

I actually made this soup on Wednesday, but I didn't post it because, at the time, I didn't love love it.  I was going for a flavor similar to this amazing tomato sauce I had at a Persian restaurant.  It's been a while since I've been there, but I remember the sauce being slightly sweet with hints of cinnamon and cumin.  And then I just made the rest of it up.

Well, as it is, the soup doesn't actually taste much like what I was going for, so I kind of thought of this one as a bust.  But that doesn't mean that it doesn't taste good.  In fact, it's delicious!  I do think it tastes better a day or two after it's first made.  And, while I usually enjoy a hearty, chunky soup, I think I would like this better if I pureed it.  I might do that next time. 

*Also, it wasn't until I had already started prepping the ingredients when I remembered that I was out of ground cinnamon.  Lucky for me, I had a few cinnamon sticks left over from who-knows-what.  So I used one cinnamon stick, but the google machine told me that you could use 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon instead.

If you have a pressure cooker, this soup comes together in just minutes.  If you don't have a pressure cooker, the lentils should be cooked through in 30-45 minutes.  So either way, you'll have an easy, delicious meal in no time.  Success!

1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1 cup red lentils
4 cups water
1/2 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 cinnamon stick OR 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp black pepper
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

In a large pot or pressure cooker, saute onion and celery over medium-high heat, with about a tablespoon of water, for 5 minutes.  Stir in the water and lentils.  Add cumin, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and black pepper, and stir to combine.

*If using a pressure cooker:  Close and lock lid and bring lentils up to pressure.  Cook on high for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow pressure to come down.
*If using a regular ol' pot:      Cover the pot with a lid, slightly cocked so as to let some steam out.  Simmer for 30-45 minutes, until lentils are soft.
**The longer you cook the lentils, the more they break down, making a creamier, less chunky soup.  Go ahead and cook them to your liking.

Remove the lid and bring heat up to medium.  Stir in the tomatoes, vegetable broth, brown sugar, and vinegar.  Cook for 5-10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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