Sunday, November 23, 2008

Soup for A Wintry Day

Nothing like a hot soup to take the edge off the biting cold of winter. This soup brought back memories of a wintry day years ago. If I'm not mistaken, it was during the blizzard of '04. I love blizzards. We got a lot of them in Iowa. I loved it then because it usually meant classes were canceled, though since it's Iowa, it took a really bad blizzard for them to cancel classes. I love it here because it meant family time, since we would all be stuck at home, especially hubby.

There is something tranquil and calming, not to mention sentimental, about being in the middle of white. It's the purest white you could ever imagine, making you forget that there's filth and dirt underneath. It gives you a sense of calm and hope, not to mention utter serenity.

Physiologically, I'm not too joyful about it, because to be honest, I can really do without the frigid temperature, but ahh..such is life. We don't always get what we want. It's all in the package. You can't pick and choose. Take it or leave it.

A bowl of steaming hearty soup is a welcome food item in such a condition. Especially when your kids have spent minutes outside building ice castles with slabs of ice and your husband has shoveled packed and dense snow from the walkway and around the van. Dashing in the door, exhaling puffs of little dragon breaths, the kids squealed with delight that there was something hot to come inside to. Hot cocoa is their favorite. There were times when I found myself making cups and cups of hot cocoa again and again while they dash in and out again and again. Imagine the hot hearty soup traveling down your throat, warming you inside out all the way to your almost numb extremeties. A welcome item indeed.

The first time I had red lentil soup was when we were invited to a Jordanian friend's house. I personally am not used to thick soups and don't really care for them. But as soon as I put the spoonful of soup to my lips, I knew I had fallen in love. There was no turning back. I asked her for the recipe. And here is my version.

Red Lentil Soup

1 lb packet of red lentils
1 onion, minced/pounded
5 cloves garlic, minced/pounded
1 stalk celery - sliced
1 carrot - sliced
1/2 Roma tomatoes, cut into small chunks
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
2 Tablespoons ground coriander
2 Tablespoons black pepper
1 Tablespoons tomato paste
2-3 Cups water

1. Soak the lentils for about an hour or so (some packets say they don't need to be soaked though)
2. Heat oil in a deep saucepan and saute the onion and garlic for about 2 minutes
3. Add the carrot, celery, tomatoes, tomato paste, cumin, coriander and continue sauteing till they're soft and fragrant
4. Add the drained red lentils and water and bring to boil
5. Simmer until lentils are cooked
6. If you have an immersion blender, blend the soup until you have a smooth consistency (or if you like it slightly chunky, stop before it's smooth)
7. Season with salt and black pepper

Cook's Notes:

  • The longer you saute the first few ingredients before dumping in the red lentils, the more flavor you're going to get, because sauteing extracts the flavor of the ingredients.
  • I didn't have an immersion blender, so I blended the hot soup in a normal blender. If you do this, be very careful because blending a hot soup can create a red lentil soup volcano. What I did was to hold down the top of the blender with a wad of cloth so if the contents do threaten to spurt out, there is something between it and my hand or face.
  • The amount of water I gave above is an estimation. You can adjust your soup's thickness, but try to keep it on the thick side.

Other versions of red lentil soup

Ethiopian-Inspired Red Lentil Soup from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen
Red Lentil Soup from Cream Puffs in Venice
Spicy Red Lentil Soup from Vegetarian Times

The red lentil soup I recently made (to finish up the packets of lentils sitting around in the bin under our dining table), I ate with tortilla that I reheated by way of steaming. It almost tastes like roti canai (paratha) eaten with thick non spicy curry. Even Zeyoudee loved it. And there I have my allergy free roti canai breakfast (


  1. sounds delicious ! going to try it! O I just tagged u on the OHIO post. hope u got it. someone tagged me so I had to play along. Feel a little silly. lol

  2. oh wow.. this looks so good, and I need it right about NOW!! =)

  3. Juli you have to teach me how you took pictures like that!

  4. bintaadam,

    1. natural light, natural light, natural light :) so in other words, location, location, location!

    i used to think my food pics are good..but now I don't anymore..and now when i play around with my camera's settinngs, and the light that comes inmy kitchen window, I can see the difference in the pics. If there is not ample natural light, the pics take on an artificial hue..and after loooking at many professional food photos, I see that as a flaw now. lol Count on me to find the imperfections,huh LOL

    then, i also noticed that good food pics tend to want to zoom in at eye level...i notice this wt other photography subjects want to zoom in at eye gives a more dramatic i zoom won't believe how my food photoshoot is like in my kitchen LOL...i love the asr light even the kids know what light is best for my food photoshoots ..H was just saying today..hmm that is good light for taking pictures, ummi lol

    but i have taken pics at night too , when the food was just done..for this I play with my camera's features again...and try to zoom in and get the best lighting ....but still, natural light i would say, is still the best!

    so go for:
    1. natural light
    2. eye level and zoom in

    the camera doesn't realy have to be fancy btw..just play around with it, but like I said that natural light is pretty essential.

  5. oh and ....

    you want to try avoiding reflections off your sometimes try going without the dont want it to look too bright...the lighting is crucial! look for example, your lemon pancake that is natural lighting!