Thursday, January 17, 2013

Spinach Lentil Soup

Blog's Category: International, My Successes, My Own Fast and Easy

Spinach Lentil Soup

In my homeland, Ukraine/Russia (interesting that I'm still feeling like combining together those two :), back there, lentils were not popular, in fact it was almost impossible to find them! Interesting that lentils were widely consumed  there in the pre-Soviet, tsar' times.
Anyway, I have discovered legumes just after my migration to US. Since then it has become one of my favorite "new foods" here. The soup below is one of the improvisations on the Lentil Soup subject. Full of vegetable proteins and flavors, I feel like it deserves to be posted here :)

- Omit carrots or corn and it still will be tasty. In fact, next time I'll make with soup without corn - mostly because I'm not sure I like crunchiness of a corn there, it seems to be clashing with overall smooth texture of other ingredients. May be that's just me, if you up to the crunchy bits in your lentil soup then definitely add corn.
- Ple-ea-ase leave a spinach in it! It brings a lot of substance to the dish. I also like to use mature spinach here (not a baby spinach), and also do not like to cut it and rather use it as is, right from a package. It will create beautiful smooth chewy green islands in your soup which you'll be hunting for with your spoon :)
- Other ingredients are pretty much "a must" as they will create great flavor for the soup.
- It's possible to use different types of lentils here, but take in attention that:
  • red lentils will not hold together - they will disintegrate (see my recipe for Indian dahl
  • green (french) lentils, they are my favorite, are more expensive, than any other. They will stay whole, and will cook pretty fast for you.
  • brown lentils (used in this recipe)  are the cheapest ones and are great for this soup. They will keep their shape and will be very soft at the same time.
Taste Description
Very flavorfull, of course with Indian cuisine notes in it hense all spices, ginger and garlic. Texture is smooth, with large chewy chunks of spinach and crunchy bites of corn.

How to Serve
Serve hot or warm. It's great with toasted pita or any type of croutons. It will stay for several days in a fridge and still be very good. I tried it our Ukrainian way., with a dollop of sour cream, and it was really good too. If you are adventurous - try :)

Spinach Lentil Soup

3-5 tbs olive oil
2 shallots (or 1 onion), chopped
5 garlic cloves, grated (minced)
1.5" ginger, peeled and grated
2 carrots, diced
1 lb brown lentils
1 tbs cumin powder
1/2 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
8 oz frozen corn (optional)
1 pack fresh mature spinach
2 bay leaves
salt (to taste)

- In a large pot, on a low heat, sweat shallots, garlic, ginger, carrots, bay leaves, cumin and chili flakes in olive for about 5 minutes, stirring, until it's fragrant and starts to soften.
- Add lentils and cover with a water 3-4" above lentils.

- Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.

- Add salt to taste, corn. Turn heat up to bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for another 30 or so minutes until lentils completely cooked (very soft).

- Add whole pack of spinach (see pictures below :)) Stir. Let it cook for another 5 minutes, adjust seasoning by adding more salt, pepper (or even sugar if you are not satisfied with what you taste !). Enjoy!


Spinach barely fit into the pot, but I tried my best to drow it into a soup.

It took about 1 minute to get whole pack of spinach to wilt into soup.

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