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.

Cluster Beans – (Gavar with Kanda Lasoon Masala)

Cluster Beans2
Cluster Beans is an annual legume that grows in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra and other arid regions in India. They are related to French beans but have a narrow, flat, long body with tiny pods. They are light green in color and they taste slightly bitter. They are called gavar phalli in Marathi. You will find cluster beans at Indian and ethnic grocery stores.

In India different states cook these beans in their own unique way. I combined kanda lasoon masala (onion-garlic spice mix) from Maharashtra with split Bengal gram (chana dal), a lentil frequently used in vegetable dishes in Tamil Nadu. The result was a fusion of flavors.

Thanks to my friend for bringing me a packet of this masala from India. You will find kanda lasoon masala at Indian grocery stores or you can order it on line. You could also use two teaspoons of coriander powder and one teaspoon of garam masala powder instead of the kanda lasoon masala. It will still taste great, but different. I love trying new vegetables. If you haven’t tried cluster beans, you should.

Cluster Beans – Gavar with Kanda Lasoon Masala
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 5

1 cup split Bengal gram, (soaked for 2 hours; Chana dal)
2 dry red chillies, (soaked with Bengal gram; depending on heat and your preference)
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 sprig finely chopped curry leaves
1 cup finely chopped onion
3 cups cluster beans
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon kanda lasoon masala
3 tablespoons water

Put the Bengal gram into a bowl and wash in several changes of water. Cover with water and let it soak for two hours along with the dry red chillies. After it has soaked for two hours drain and put it into a food processor or blender. You want a coarse grind, so pulse/blend until the Bengal gram and chillies break up into tiny bits.

Wash and dry the cluster beans. Top and tail them. If they need stringing, just pluck the end of a cluster bean with your hand, and then pull downward; if a thick thread comes away, the bean need stringing. Do the same on the other side of the bean. The beans can then be cut into one-inch pieces.

Heat a pressure cooker over medium-high heat.  Add oil and when it shimmers add the mustard seeds. When the mustard splutter, add the curry leaves and chopped onion. When the onion turns translucent, add the cluster beans. Stir and cook the beans for two minutes. Next, add the turmeric powder, kanda lasoon masala, and salt.

Sprinkle the coarsely ground Bengal gram over the cluster beans. Add water, put the lid and weight on the pressure cooker, and turn the heat to the lowest possible point on your stove. There is hardly any water so steam will not escape. Set your timer for ten minutes. When ten minutes are over, turn off the heat. Let the pressure cooker cool down completely and then remove the weight and lid. The dal and beans would have cooked perfectly. Mix well and serve with rotis.
Cluster Beans Kanda Lasoon Masala

Pune Peanut Chutney

Pune Peanut Chutney1

Having grown up in the peanut growing state of Maharashtra, India, I have eaten my fair share of a variety of peanut chutneys. Some of the most popular ingredients that go into making peanut chutney are fresh or dry grated coconut, garlic, dry red chillies, sesame seeds, tamarind, and whole garam masala.

You can easily make this recipe your own by changing the quantity of the ingredients to suit your taste. I love all the different peanut chutneys I learned to make when I lived in Maharashtra. Peanut chutney goes well with plain rice, dal, and a vegetable fry. I hope you will try it out.

Pune Peanut Chutney
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves: 3-4

1 cup roasted peanuts, (salted or unsalted)
¼ cup freshly grated coconut, (or frozen grated coconut)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
5 dry red chillies, (depending on heat and your preference)
2-4 garlic cloves, (depending on your preference)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon tamarind pulp
1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder
1 teaspoon sugar

Place a non-stick pan, over medium-low heat. Add the coconut and roast until it turns light brown. Transfer to a plate and cool. Next, add the sesame seeds, chillies, garlic, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds to the pan. Roast until the sesame seeds pop and the rest of the ingredients are fragrant. Transfer them to the plate with the coconut. Let the ingredients cool for about five minutes.

Grind all the ingredients to a coarse powder in a food processor, or blender. Use very little salt, if you are using salted peanuts. Make sure you don’t turn the chutney into peanut butter! Store in a small bottle or jar. Peanut chutney is a great accompaniment to any meal.

French Green Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup4

French Green Lentils (Lentilles du Puy) were originally grown in the volcanic soils near Puy in France but now they are also grown in North America and Italy. Green lentils don’t turn mushy and hold their shape well after cooking so they are especially good in salads. They are said to have top fiber content compared to other lentils.

I found a packet of organic green lentils at Whole Foods and could not resist trying them out in this lentil soup. I followed the same recipe that I use for my Moroccan lentil soup. The green lentils added richness and consistency to the soup. They take longer to cook than other lentils so I soaked them in boiling water for 15 minutes before adding them to the soup. If you do not have green lentils, you can use brown or red lentils instead. You will not need to soak them and they will take less time to cook. Adjust the chilli flakes and pepper to suit your palate. Fresh thyme leaves is the secret ingredient in this recipe so try using them instead of dry thyme leaves.

I’ve been posting soup recipes for the past few weeks and you can blame the cold weather on the East Coast for that. So, hang in there with me, while I try to keep my family warm with soup for supper.

Lentil 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.
Lentil Soup Packet

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.