Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Vegetarian Week Challenge: Lentil Soup by Alton Brown

Lentil Soup by Susan Lee
Recipe: Alton Brown

As I previously blogged, I decided I would try Vegetarian Eating for one week. I started this past Saturday with my first vegetarian meal -- Lentil Soup. I found a recipe by Alton Brown on the food network and have included it below. The recipe is extremely easy to follow with the hardest part being the vegetable preparation. I chose this recipe because of Alton Brown. If you have seen his show, Good Eats, you'll know that Alton does a phenomenal job educating his viewers on the history of food. Since this Vegetarian Week challenge started after watching Food educational documentaries (Food Matters/Food Inc) and Oprah's show, I thought it would be form fitting to start the week with an educationally focused chef!

Below are my comments and notes indicated in blue.
  • Cutting the vegetables in this recipe is probably the most time consuming part of this recipe. I started cutting the carrots by hand, and then realized it may be easier with a blender (I don't have a food processor). So I tried that and the carrots came out extremely fine (just be careful not to puree it). I tried the celery, but decided it was easier to just cut it into mini cubes. The onions? I attempted the blender with this, but shortly realized it would be better to just finely chop the onions.
  • I made a few substitutions to this recipe since I used what was readily available at home. I didn't have vegetable broth at home, so I decided to substitute it with Knorr vegetable cubes. The flavors from soup were very nice.
  • There are two types of lentils -- red and regular. I selected the regular lentil.
  • The recipe says you can puree the soup once its done. I chose not to do this and to keep the lentils in its small-dish like form.
  • Get ready for leftovers! The recipe said it will yield 6-8 servings, which I think is a bit conservative. I can easily say I had at least two tubs full of lentil soup, with more left in the pot. If you don't want to have lentil soup for a month, ask some friends to come over and enjoy the soup with you! Otherwise, you can freeze the soup and store it for a month or so.

Overall, I really enjoyed cooking and eating this soup. Though it took a while to get the ingredients together, the results were worthwhile. The soup is extremely filling, healthy and great-tasting. I'm happy this was a successful first meal in my week challenge. It shows promise for the rest of the week!

Go Vegetarian and take the week challenge with me!

Ingredients: (Makes 6-8 servings)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot (try a food processor)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound lentils, picked and rinsed
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped tomatoes (I used a can of whole plum tomatoes)
  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth (I substituted with Knorr Vegetable Cubes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground toasted cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground grains of paradise (I substituted this with ground pepper)
Place the olive oil into a large 6-quart Dutch oven
(I used a pot) and set over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, carrot, celery and salt and sweat until the onions are translucent, approximately 6 to 7 minutes. Add the lentils, tomatoes, broth, coriander, cumin and grains of paradise and stir to combine. Increase the heat to high and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook at a low simmer until the lentils are tender, approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Using a stick blender, puree to your preferred consistency (I didn't puree, I left it as is). Serve immediately.
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