If you haven’t guessed yet, you will find that most of my recipes are meatless. Now my ancestors aren’t to happy about that, so every once in a while I will cook up a pork chop in their honor…but not today.
Today, it’s all about lentils; the most amazing legume out there because of its higher than most dietary fiber content. What does fiber mean for us? Nicer, gentler trips to the bathroom (for those that suffer from being backed up) and lower cholesterol. Now…who doesn’t want these benefits?
I live with my teenaged daughter who has been a vegetarian for a few years now and we don’t keep any meat (except for the ancestors) in the house. This helps me out health-wise and dollar-wise. But here’s the problem; the child hates beans. In fact she hates a ton of things most vegetarians love. So when I’m making a bean dish (with the exception of the chickpea fritters), I just need to make enough for me. Preparing lentils is easy when serving one person. They cook in minutes without soaking!! So this makes them a perfect last-minute bean option.
Usually most of my recipes will not have measurements because I don’t measure most things I cook unless I’m baking. Please don’t ask me, how much onions or salt or pepper, ’cause I won’t have a clue. However for this recipe, I’m going to have mercy on those who need it and offer measurement suggestions only for some of the ingredients. Lentils soak up a lot of liquids (and thus flavor) so I like to be exact when measuring them out and adding the cooking stock.
Curry Lentil Soup with Spinach (for one)
1/2 cup Lentil Beans – red split, dry – I love these lentils in particular for no other reason than the fact that they start off pink and then turn yellow when cooked. You don’t have to soak these but they need a good rinse and sort.
Garlic finely chopped
Yukon gold potato – peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
Curry Powder – the Trinidadian kind is so good in this recipe
1 cup vegetable stock – low/no sodium
1/4 cup red wine
1 cup Spinach – fresh
Extra Virgin Olive Oil or expeller-pressed coconut oil for sauteing
In a quart size pot heat oil. When hot, add onions and saute until tender. Add garlic and quickly saute.
Sprinkle in the curry powder. Listen up people!! There is nothing better than cooking spices with a bit of oil in ANY dish. Spices have a rawness to them and sauteing them first before adding any kind of liquid is out of this world and frankly a requirement in any dish I make.
As soon as the spices start to smoke up the joint, add the lentils and saute some more. I think cooking beans or even rice for that matter this way adds so much more flavor and almost a minute hint of nuttiness to the dish. Once the beans are coated, throw in the potatoes.
NOW YOU CAN ADD THE LIQUID! BUT HOLD THE SALT! I don’t add salt to beans until they’re done. Salt makes the beans tough while they’re cooking. I’ve heard this somewhere and it’s true as far as I’m concerned.
Simmer until almost all of the liquid is absorbed and lentils and potatoes are tender. If these were your average bean, we’d be talking almost an hour (even after soaking), but we’re talking about lentils people! They are usually done in like 15-20 minutes!
About 5 minutes before they’re done, throw in the spinach. Spinach adds great texture and nutrients to this one-pot dish. But you don’t want to over cook them or you’ll lose all of these benefits. Now you can add salt here as well if you like.
One last thing I like to do is to take out my good ‘ole immersion blender and get to blending…just a bit to thicken this dish up. Make sure to keep the integrity of most of the beans and potatoes. If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a potato masher.
Variations – if you like carrots, chop them and saute along with the onions and garlic. Want some meat in there? Saute sliced turkey sausage along with the onions and garlic. As a topping, I sometimes sprinkle a little crumbled feta cheese once served.
Hope you like it! Lemme know!