Monday, September 06, 2010

Moroccan red lentil and eggplant soup

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Joseph and I made a Moroccan inspired red lentil soup for dinner last night. The air is beginning to feel like fall here and this was a perfect inexpensive recipe to use up some seasonal produce.
We based our recipe on the Greek red lentil soup found in the Rebar cookbook, which is a must in every cooking library.

1 eggplant, chopped in medium-sized pieces and roasted in the oven (with olive oil) at 350°F for 15-20 minutes
2 cups red lentils
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp canola/vegetable oil
1 Tbsp butter (optional)
1 Large yellow onion, diced
pinch salt
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
black peppercorns, to taste
1/8 - 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp Ras El Hanout
1 tsp Spanish paprika
1 Tbsp fresh minced rosemary
1 Tbsp fresh minced oregano
2 Bay leaves
4-5 dried apricots, chopped into small pieces
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
8 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup water (optional)
zest of half a lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
crumbled feta cheese, to taste (optional)

Rinse your red lentils in a colander under cold water and set aside to drain. Heat the oils and butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat and sauté onion with a small pinch of salt until translucent. Grind together in a mortar and pestle the pepper, cumin seeds and chili flakes. Mix together with other herbs and spices. Add to your pot the garlic, carrots, herb and spice mixture and another pinch salt. Stir well and sauté until the carrots are almost cooked through. Add the roasted eggplant, lentils, chickpeas, dried apricots, stock, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until lentils are soft and falling apart -- at least 1 hour. (We let it sit simmering on the stove for about 4 hours to reach the nice thick consistency) Sauté in a separate pan the diced yellow pepper and add to soup for the last 20 minutes or so of cooking time, along with the lemon juice and zest.
Top finished soup with crumbled feta and fresh ground pepper.

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