Red Lentil Soup

some ingredients red lentil soup

Lentils are among the healthiest foods, partly because they contain plenty of protein and other goods. They are among the earliest food cultivated in the Near East (those facts are candy to me as a history student) They are eaten in many parts of the world in many different ways and go by the name daal, dal, lens, linzen and probably plenty of others too.

Anyway, I like them but my boyfriend doesn’t. So even though he doesn’t complain when I make them, there are no compliments either, only when I hide them in a soup does he happily spoon them away.  This red lentil soup is very filling, so great when your stomach is calling you.

Red lentil soup

1 carrot

1 capsicum, red or yellow

1 cup red lentils

6 garlic cloves

1 onion

1 small chili pepper

1 lemon

Ground cumin

Salt and Pepper

Parsley

Homemade stock or stock cubes (homemade stock is always preferable)

Cut the onions, garlic, carrot and capsicum small. If you like a spicy soup, you can also cut up the pepper, otherwise just cook it in a whole.

Warm some oil in a soup pan and sauté the onions, add the garlic and the pepper, sauté for another minute and add the carrot and capsicum. Sauté everything together for another 3 minutes without browning it and add the lentils.  Mix the lentils with the vegetables and poor in 3 cups of stock. The lentils will soak up some liquid so check after a while if there is still enough stock, if not add some more. The vegetables should be covered in stock.

When the lentils have lost their shape and the carrots are soft, the soup is ready. Add juice of half a lemon and taste if it needs some more. Season with cumin, pepper and salt to taste and garnish with some chopped parsley. You can play with the seasoning; maybe add some curcuma, masala kerrie or paprika.

December 14th 2009

I made almost the same soup today but instead of serving it like it is, I pureed the soup and added some left over shredded chicken. I replaced the cumin powder with coriander powder. I used home made chicken stock and cut back on the lemon. A very different soup with only minor adjustments.

Stuffed Bell Peppers two ways

This dish is inspired by my boyfriend’s aunt; she made a delicious stuffed capsicum when we stayed in her house this summer. The work alone looked so nice; stuffing capsicum with your bare hands, I couldn’t wait to get my hands dirty on that job. In the following weeks many ingredients changed and the recipe transformed into the version I show you today. This dish is even better when made up front and reheated; this gives the flavors time to really fuse together.

Ras el Hanout is a Moroccan spice blend used across the Middle East and North Africa. It means ‘ top of the shop’ in Arabic, and contains a mixture of all the best spices a seller has on offer. It can contain up to 30 ingredients but usually would contain at least cardamom, clove, cinnamon, paprika, coriander, cumin, mace, nutmeg, peppercorn and turmeric. Most people have their own special blend which can contain more less know herbs and spices. You can find it in most Arabic shops or you can try to make your own customized blend.

beheaded capsicum

4 big or 6 small red and yellow capsicums

¾ cup fine bulgur

½ pound of minced beef/pork mixed

4 garlic cloves

1 onion

3 tomatoes

5 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

2 teaspoon paprika powder (sweet Hungarian style)

½ tablespoon ras el-hanout

1 teaspoon harissa paste

2 tablespoon flat leave parsley

Squeeze of lemon juice

1 handful sultana’s soaked in water

Sun flower oil

stuffed capsicum

  • Rinse the bulgur, let the water leak out and put it with the meat in a big bowl.
  • Wash the paprika’s, cut of the heads and take out the seeds, don’t throw away the heads.
  • Cut the garlic and the flat leave parsley small. Cut half of the onion small and shred the other half.
  • Add  cinnamon, cumin, paprika powder, flat leave parsley; sultana’s (leaked out), the shredded onion, half of the garlic, 3 tablespoons of tomato paste, pepper and salt to the meat. Mix everything well, this is easiest done with your hands.
  • Take a pan with a high rim and a lid. Bake the onions in some oil until soft, add the remaining garlic and bake for another minute, now throw in the tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and let it simmer until it turns into a sauce. Season with the ras el-hanout, harissa, pepper/salt and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Fill up the paprika’s with the meat/bulgur mixture and put them straight up in the sauce. You don’t want to press the mixture in the pepper, just spoon it in, don’t stuff it and leave about a centimeter of space at the top because the bulgur will soak up the sauce and expand. Add some water to the sauce so it comes half way up the capsicum. You can put a couple of tablespoon of sauce in the capsicum’s as well. Put their heads back on and close the lid. Let them simmer until the paprika’s are soft, this would take around one hour

26 march 2010

Yesterday I decided to take a different approach to these stuffed peppers. We were talking about doing a road trip in Greece and that gave me inspiration to use some different herbs and spices than the ones I usually use in this recipe.

I substituted the bulgur for white rice and used fresh basil, black olives, sun dried tomatoes, cinnamon, chili pepper, spring onion, red onion and garlic for the stuffing (and the meat of course).

I made the sauce by sauteing half a red onion  with some dried basil, coriander seeds and bay leaf. Then I added one tablespoon of the stuffing I had left and baked it until soft and fragrant. Add one can of tomatoes, water, pepper salt and bring to a simmer. When you nestle the paprika’s in the sauce, spoon a couple of tablespoons of sauce in the peppers, put their hats back on and let them simmer with the lid on until the paprika’s are soft.

Don’t be afraid to try and add your own favorite ingredients to the recipe, cooking is experimenting!