Summer is long over in BC, and has given way to our only other season here; the rainy season. This week has been especially gloomy, with hard rains and high winds waking me up each morning, pounding relentlessly against my rooftop and windows.
When I logged onto The Daring Kitchen this morning and saw that September’s challenge is stocks, soups, and soup accompaniments, I knew I’d found the perfect solution to combat the weather blahs.
I found myself craving easily delicious lentil soup, a recipe that was passed to me by my friend Daphne, who received it from her friend Reut, who was given the recipe by her aunt. This recipe has travelled a long way, and perhaps will continue it’s trot across the miles and through the years.
The beautiful thing about this recipe, the thing that makes it endure, is that it tastes deceptively complex; it only has about 7 or 8 ingredients, but they are such good ingredients that each one absolutely sings when combined and made into soup. Don’t believe me? Try it and see.
Now, I usually make this soup with plain water, maybe adding a dash of instant broth powder if I feel like adding a little somethin’ somethin’, but this Daring Kitchen Challenge challenged me to do something I had not done successfully before; make a stock from scratch.
As it was, I had to clean out my fridge anyways, so this was the absolute perfect way to use up the sad little celery heart languishing next to the wilted leeks. And this provided a good opportunity to infuse the lemon flavour that usually results from my drizzling fresh lemon over my bowl of soup. I had no fresh lemon, but I had these;
Fact: I accidently threw out Daphne’s dried lemons once back when we were room-mates. When I found them in the kitchen, I mistakenly believed they were rotten lemons, not realising that Daphne had flown all the way from Israel with the dried lemons tucked into her purse because they can be so hard to find in Canada. They are ugly little things, but a dried lemon thrown into a pot of rice or a pot of stock will infuse a TON of lemony flavour. And you can keep them in the cupboard indefinitely without worrying about them going bad….after all, look at them! How much worse could they get? 😉
So here is the recipe for the stock I created, a tangy, lemony stock, with rich undertones of vegetables and spices. It worked very well with the lentil soup.
Kayleen’s Lemon Vegetable Stock
Two carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 baked potato, peeled
1 tomato, halved
1 sprig of parsley
1 heart of celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed slightly
2 shallots, peeled
2 leeks, seperated, washed carefully to remove grit, and chopped
2 bay leaves
1 pinch of thyme
cracked black pepper
1 dried lemon
1 – 2 inches of cinnamon stick
Combine all in a pot with 5 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 30 – 45 minutes. Strain out and discard the vegetables, reserving the stock. Yields about 3 1/3 cup.
The aroma of the simmering stock was pretty amazing.
The resulting stock was this: clear, golden, lovely;
This photo would of course be much nicer if I had remembered to get rid of my empty bottle of root beer. I never said I wasn’t a slob…
Once my stock was made, it was time to make the soup.
Easy Lentil Soup
Adapted from Daphne’s recipe at foodplant
2 cups red lentils, rinsed and picked over
Stock + water to total 6 cups
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
1 tsp each of ground coriander and cumin
2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of freshly cracked black pepper
After the lentils have been washed, transfer them to a soup pot and add the other ingredients. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and simmer the soup, stirring often, for about 30 minutes (it will take longer if you include other types of lentils). Taste and adjust the spices if necessary. Serve with lemon juice and olive oil, if you like, or omit the olive-oil for a fat-free soup.
I decided that a flatbread would be the perfect accompaniment to the lentil soup, so I set about modifying this griddle flatbread recipe from About.com. The resulting bread is somewhere between a flatbread and a cracker, depending on how thinly you roll it out.
1 cup of all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1 heaped tbsp of earth balance margarine (vegetable shortening works well too here)
1/3 cup of very cold water
Get a heavy frying pan and pre-heat it on medium-low with a very thin coating of oil. While the pan preheats, make the dough: Combine the all purpose flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Use a fork to cut the margarine or shortening in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the cold water and knead just until the mixture comes together into a smooth dough. Divide the dough into two portions and roll each portion out into a thin round. Prick all over with a fork, and then cook on the pan until browned. Flip over and brown the other side. You may not be able to fit more than one flatbread on the pan at a time. This recipe yields two breads.