Hearty Lentil Soup with Rasam Powder

Lentil Soup with Rasam Powder3
I pretend I’m on the TV show Chopped, when my fridge and pantry are down to their last few vegetables – one potato, one onion, one carrot, a few stalks of celery, tail end of the parsley, and lentils. That is how I came up with this recipe.

The rasam part of the recipe was included because both my daughter and I had sore throats. Rasam is a watery, spicy, tart Indian soup. The English called it mulligatawny soup. The name originates from the Tamil words milagu and thanni which translates to pepper-water.

Rasam powder can be bought at Indian grocery stores. Its spicy but you can adjust the amount you use to your own level of comfort. This soup is excellent when you have a cough or cold. It clears the sinuses, helps with digestion, and it is rich in vitamins. I hope you enjoy this soup as much as we did.

Hearty Lentil Soup with Rasam Powder
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Serves: 6-8

1 cup diced onion
3 tablespoons oil
6 medium garlic cloves
2 teaspoons whole black pepper, (optional)
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1-2 tablespoons Aachi Rasam Powder, (depending on heat and your preference)
1 cup whole green lentils, (French green lentils)
1 cup whole brown lentils, (masoor dal)
3-4 cups water, (enough to cover the lentils by two inches)
1 cup carrot cubes
1 cup potato cubes
½ cup diced celery
14.5 can of diced tomatoes
32 oz (2 lbs) vegetable or chicken broth, (99% fat free, low sodium)
1½ teaspoons balsamic vinegar, (optional)
2 tablespoons minced parsley, (optional)

Fry the onion in a large pot over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion becomes translucent.

While the onions are getting translucent, crush the garlic, black pepper, and cumin in a mortar and pestle. Crush them well so the pepper breaks into tiny pieces. Add the crushed ingredients to the onion and cook until fragrant, about three minutes. Add the rasam powder, stir and cook for 30 seconds. Add the lentils and enough hot water to cover the lentils by two inches. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover partially, and cook for 30 minutes.

Increase the heat to high and add carrot, potato, celery, tomato, vegetable broth, balsamic vinegar, and salt to taste. Reduce heat to low, cover partially, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the lentils have darkened. Add parsley and cook for another five minutes with the lid off. Stir well and serve hot. Can be refrigerated in an airtight container for two days. Warm over low heat until hot.

Kale and Red Lentil Soup

Kale SoupMy inspiration for today’s recipe was a spice rack that I got for Christmas. Thank you, Sonia, for this beautiful gift. The 20-jar revolving spice rack has dry herbs and spices that are of the highest quality. I used rosemary and thyme in my soup today. If you don’t own a spice rack, I recommend that you get one. Having spices and herbs at your fingertips is a time saver in the kitchen.

My love for kale is no secret and I’m using it in the soup of the day. Kale has been a very popular vegetable recently. Doctors have named it one of the world’s healthiest foods. Kale has antioxidant-related health benefits, anti-inflammatory health benefits, and cancer-preventive benefits. It also provides cardiovascular support, controls blood glucose levels, improves bone health, and helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

I also used red lentils (masoor dal) in the soup. You can find red lentils at your regular grocery store or at the Indian grocery store. I used the split red lentils instead of the whole red lentils, because they cook faster. Take the time and effort to wash the kale well. If the stems on the kale are tough, remove them and use only the leaves. You can use some of the tender stems, but cut them into small pieces.

My family enjoyed this soup a lot and I hope you will too.

Kale and Lentil Soup
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Serves: 4

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons sliced garlic
¼ teaspoon turmeric
½ cup split red lentils, (masoor dal)
2 cups water
1 can (14.5 oz 411 g) diced Tomatoes
1 can (15.5 oz 439 g) Goya small red beans
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, (optional)
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
7 cups low-sodium stock, (vegetable or chicken)
4 cups kale
3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)

De-stem the kale by pulling the leaves away from the stem. Wash the leaves and tear (or cut) them into small bite size pieces. If you use the tender stem, cut them into small pieces. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Stir and when they turn translucent, add turmeric and lentils. Stir and cook for a minute. Add two cups of water. Bring the water to a boil, then turn the heat to low. Partially cover the saucepan with a lid and let it cook for 20 minutes. The lentils should be well cooked before you add the rest of the ingredients.

Add the tomatoes, red beans, rosemary, thyme, red pepper flakes, pepper, salt, and vegetable stock. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the kale, turn the heat to medium-low, and let the soup simmer for ten minutes. Serve in soup bowls and garnish with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Reposting – French Green Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup4Lentil Soup
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Serves: 10

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 bay leaf
4 cups chopped onion
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons grated garlic
1 tablespoons minced thyme leaves, (or 1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves)
1 cup chopped leeks, (white parts only)
1 tablespoon coriander powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1 teaspoon chilli flakes, (depending on heat and your preference)
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 cups medium-diced celery
3 cups medium-diced carrots
¼ cup tomato paste
2½ cups green lentils, (you can also use brown or red lentils)
12 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Rinse and soak the green lentils in boiling water for 15 minutes.

Add oil to a large pot, over medium-high heat. When it shimmers add bay leaf, onion, ginger, garlic, thyme, leeks and salt. Sauté until onion turns translucent. Add coriander powder, cumin powder, chili flakes, ground pepper, celery, carrots, and tomato paste. Stir and cook until the oil separates.

Drain the lentils and add to the soup. Then add the chicken or vegetable stock. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Once the soup starts boiling, turn the heat to medium-low, remove the lid and let the soup simmer and cook for one hour. Add lemon juice and red wine vinegar, stir and check to see if the salt is sufficient. Turn off the heat. Cover the soup and let it rest for 15-20 minutes. Reheat the soup when you are ready to serve. Garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Broccoli and Cheddar Cheese Soup

Broccoli Cheddar Soup2

Broccoli and cheddar cheese soup has always been a favorite of mine. It’s a comforting soup with all the creamy richness of cheddar cheese and broccoli. I still remember the first time I ordered it in a restaurant in California. I was hooked and I knew I had to learn how to make it.

You don’t need a whole lot of ingredients and it takes about 30 minutes to make from start to finish. Making the soup begins with a simple roux, like they make in restaurants. I’ve used whole milk, heavy cream, mild cheddar cheese, and vegetable stock. You could switch the mild cheddar for sharp cheddar cheese, if you please.

For a lighter version, you could use oilive oil, evaporated fat-free milk, reduced fat half and half, and reduced fat cheddar cheese. Also, make sure that you use low-sodium vegetable stock or make your stock from scratch using my vegetable stock recipe. I’ve also seen recipes using unsweetened almond or coconut milk instead of milk and heavy cream.

Well, here’s how you make my version of broccoli and cheddar cheese soup. I had it for lunch today, with a piece of whole wheat bread. I really enjoyed it and I hope you will too.

Broccoli and Cheddar Cheese Soup
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4-6

3 tablespoons butter
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 cups whole milk
2 cups vegetable stock, (or chicken stock)
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 cups broccoli florets, (1 pound; I used some of the tender stems as well)
2 cups grated mild cheddar cheese, (8 ounces; set aside ¼ cup to garnish the soup)

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they turn soft. It will take about three minutes. Add garlic, thyme, and flour. Stir constantly and cook for one minute. While whisking, slowly pour in the milk, vegetable stock and heavy cream. Add salt and pepper. Stir constantly and cook until the mixture begins to bubble. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the broccoli. Cook for ten minutes, stirring once in a while, to make sure it is not catching to the bottom of the pan. Off the heat and add cheese. Stir until all the cheese is melted. Garnish each bowl of soup with a little grated cheese.

Note:  You could serve the soup as is or you could puree the soup in a blender, heat it up again, and then serve. I used a potato masher to mash half of the soup and I left the other half chunky. If the soup is too thick you can thin it down with vegetable stock or water.

Winter Soup

Winter Soup1

Nothing beats a warm bowl of soup on a chilly night, and we’ve been having a lot of those recently. This recipe is sure to become one of your staples. It calls for vegetable stock – a recipe I shared with you last week.

This is a hearty vegetable soup with earthy garbanzos, potatoes, and kale. I’ve browned  the potatoes lightly to deepen their flavor.

I use only the green part of the kale leaves. An easy way to prepare the kale for this soup is to hold each kale leaf upside down by the stem and pull the leaves off, then stack the large greens one on top of the other, roll them into tight bundles and slice them into thin strips.

Hope you get a chance to relax, sit by the fire, and enjoy this delicious soup this winter.

Winter Soup
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6

2 tablespoons oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
3 cups 1-inch cubed potatoes
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon chilli flakes, (optional)
salt to taste
3 cups chopped kale leaves, (tough ribs and stems removed)
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 ounce) can garbanzos, rinsed and drained
4 cups vegetable stock, (check my recipe or use low sodium store-bought vegetable stock)

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and potatoes. Cover and cook for four to five minutes. Add garlic, bay leaves, pepper, chili flakes, and kale. Stir and let the kale wilt. Add tomatoes, garbanzo and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Once the soup starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Check for seasoning and add salt if needed.

Vegetable Stock

Vegetable Stock3

I learned the basics of cooking American food from my mother-in-law. She made everything from scratch because, back then, Indian grocery stores did not carry the kind of vegetables, herbs, pastas, sauces, and ingredients like they do today. She made her own whole wheat bread, peanut butter, mayonnaise, a variety of jams, soups, stews, and even complicated stuff like meatless salami. Her desserts were to die for – lemon pies with mile-high meringue, cakes, puddings, cookies, and brownies. The table was set for every meal. The laughter and stories that we shared around the table are memories that I will always cherish. My mother-in-law is beautiful, wise, strong, and more fun than a mother-in-law should be! Thank you, mom, for being such an incredible teacher.

I wanted to share a winter soup recipe with you today, but realized that one of the ingredients that I asked for was vegetable stock. So, first, let me share with you a simple vegetable stock recipe that I make very often. I think it is much better to make your own stock, because that way you control the amount of salt that you put into it. You could also buy low-sodium vegetable, chicken, fish or beef stock from the grocery store. But once you learn how to make it yourself, and you use it in making your soup – there is no going back to store-bought stock. It is by far one of the easiest things you can make, so let’s begin.

Vegetable Stock
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Makes: 4 cups of stock

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion
1 large red potato
3 carrots
3 celery stalks
6 mushrooms
3 garlic cloves
6 sprigs of parsley
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons soy sauce
8 cups water
salt to taste

Wash all the vegetables and give them a rough chop. You don’t even need to peel the onion or the garlic.

You need a large pot that will hold all the vegetables and the water. Heat the pot over medium-high heat. Add vegetable oil. When the oil shimmers add onion, potato, carrots, celery, mushrooms, and whole garlic cloves. Cook without stirring for about five minutes. Then stir infrequently, allowing the vegetables to get lightly brown. It will take about 10-15 minutes.

Add parsley, black peppercorns, bay leaf, soy sauce, and water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and allow the soup to simmer steadily. Cook for 45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Strain, taste and add more salt if needed before storing. Use this stock for soups, stews and other recipes that call for vegetable stock.