Sunshine on a snowy day...
Red/orange lentils are a staple in our house. I've been making our golden lentil soup for years. Eighteen to be exact! That's definitely a tried and true recipe. My boss at the Garden of Eatin' (a vegan restaurant in Marin, Ca. circa early 90's) taught me how to make it, and I've been whipping it up ever since. Fast. Healing. Satisfying. What follows is more of a how to than an exact recipe:
Golden Lentil Miso Soup
a couple of carrots
a couple stalks of celery
a couple of potatoes
one clove garlic
-Fill a large pot with and 2 inches or so of dry lentils. Rinse until the water runs clean. This is the most time consuming part of the entire soup process, and will take several rinses. The water will get foamy. Swish your hands around in it. Clean those lentils.
-Drain. Fill the pot a little more than half way with water and bring to a boil. Do not cover. Watch your pot well. It will bubble over if not attended to. The kids love reporting that it's getting ready to erupt like a volcano. That's when I run to the pot with a ladle and bowl to skim off the foam and turn down the heat just a little.
-Now it's time to add your chopped potatoes, carrots, and celery. We put onions in everything, but rarely do they end up in this soup. If you feel like it, go for it.
-If it looks like it's getting too thick add more water. Cook until lentils have dissolved into a lovely golden puree. This happens surprisingly fast. I meant to time it for you, but I got distracted... and then they were done. After all of these years I've never clocked it, but I'm thinking 30-40 minutes.
-Turn off heat. Ladle about a cup of the "thick broth" into a blender with several tablespoons of miso and a clove of garlic. Blend until smooth and pour back into the pot. Taste. If you want it a little saltier, just add a little more miso.
Miso is a living food with restorative powers, try not to over cook when re-heating your soup or it will destroy the good micro-organisms.
Serve with cracked pepper, crusty bread and a salad... or add some greens to the soup in the last 5 minutes of cooking. I know the ingredients list is short and not overly impressive, but I believe that the simplicity is the secret to why this soup works as a perfect comfort food on a cold winter night. Variation: omit the potatoes, add more water and some cooked noodles... and you have a delicious and healing alternative to chicken noodle soup.
Have a warm and healthy day!