Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Nick is looney for lentils!

This week the souperstars gathered for an Indian themed soup night. Nick was the chef and he did not disappoint. I’m sorry to the other souperstars, but this has been my favorite soup to date. It was very hardy and perfect for the coldest day of the year in Chicago so far.

Mushroom and Almond Spinach Salad
Coconut Red Lentil Soup with Naan
Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango

Mushroom and Almond Spinach Salad
Kaitlin made this recipe up, so nothing is precise. It was more of an improvisation. Make sure you season to taste.

Portobello Mushrooms, sautéed

½ onion, diced
balsamic vinegar
dijon mustard
olive oil
freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Sauté mushrooms and set aside. Caramelize onion in a sauté pan. Once the onion is nice and brown, add a few hefty splashes of balsamic. Let the balsamic reduce. Add a dollop of mustard, stir, and remove from heat. Pour mixture in a glass jar, add a few glugs of olive oil, orange juice, brown sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Shake well. In a large bowl, add spinach, mushrooms, and almonds. Toss salad with dressing and serve.

Coconut Red Lentil Soup
Serves 6
*adapted from 101 cookbooks

1 cup yellow split peas

1 cup red split lentils (masoor dal)

7 cups water

1 medium carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice

3 tbs fresh peeled and minced ginger

3 tbs curry powder

2 tbs butter 

8 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
½ cup golden raisins

1/3 cup tomato paste

1 14-ounce can coconut milk

1 pinch of brown sugar
2 tsp fine grain sea salt

small handful cilantro, chopped
cooked brown rice or farro, for serving (optional)

Give the split peas and lentils a good rinse - until they no longer leave murky water. Place them in an extra-large soup pot, cover with the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the carrot and 1/4 of the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the split peas are soft.

In the meantime, in a small dry skillet or saucepan over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is quite fragrant. Be careful though, you don't want to burn the curry powder, just toast it. Set aside. Place the butter in a pan over medium heat, add half of the green onions, the remaining ginger, and raisins. Saute for two minutes stirring constantly, then add the tomato paste and saute for another minute or two more.

Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so. The texture should thicken up, but you can play around with the consistency if you like by adding more water, a bit at a time, if you like. Or simmer longer for a thicker consistency. The thicker this soup got, the more I liked it.

Cook Rice, and place a portion in each bowl. Ladle soup into bowls, and garnish with green onions and cilantro. Serve with Naan, the Indian flat bread.

Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango
This is another Kaitlin original, enjoy!

Depending on how many people you are serving, follow the directions on rice box for ratio of rice to water. Substitute coconut milk in for about 1/3 of the amount of water. Add tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt to the water/coconut mixture, let dissolve. Add rice and cook as the package directs.

While the rice cooks, bring a can of coconut milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Add sugar and salt until it tastes deliciously sweet, salty, and coconutty (the salt really brings out the coconut flavor.)

Pour sauce over cooked rice, combine and let sit covered until ready to serve (at least 10 or so minutes.) Serve with sliced mango.

Beer Served

Wine served
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