I’m back from my visit to the United States, back to the land of good, cheap vegetables. The first thing I did on the morning after we landed was to visit our neighborhood vegetable shop, the Ibn Gvirol Shook, where they had indeed noticed our absence (it’s nice to be missed, no?). In any case, I came home with an armful of fresh vegetables, for about half of what it would have cost me at that lovely grocery store on the corner of Amsterdam and 74th. I was quite happy.
But, since it’s still a little cool — even though nowhere near as bad as it is in New York — I decided to turn them into a soup. I don’t always like lentils alone, but they sure are nice in a soup, and the red lentils add a thicker soupy texture. All the vegetables give it flavor.
I made my soup in a pressure cooker, which speeds things up significantly, but if you don’t have one on hand, it’ll take about an hour to cook, instead of 20 minutes.
For 4-6 nice servings:
1 c brown lentils
1/2 c red lentils
4 celery stalks
1 red pepper
8 garlic cloves
3/4 c tomato paste (the tomatoes need help at this time of year)
Start by soaking the lentils. I’ve heard that adding some baking powder while soaking beans reduces the gassiness quotient, so I added some. It seemed to work.
Chop the vegetables and start stir-frying them, aside from the tomatoes and herbs, in a large, thick-bottomed pot or pressure cooker, with some olive oil (this includes the garlic). Add the tomatoes, and then the tomato paste.
Add the brown lentils (drained), stir, and add at least 1 liter water (this is the absolute minimum — for a very thick soup when cooked in a pressure cooker; a pot with a regular lid will need more; and if you want a soup and not a stew, add more, too). Add the red lentils, as well as salt, pepper and the chopped herbs, including the celery leaves.
Close the pressure cooker (or pot) and cook for 20 minutes (or an hour in a regular pot — until the lentils are soft).