Sometimes the weather is cool and rainy and only a hot bowl of soup or stew will hit the spot. Today is one of those days in the mid-Atlantic region. We have had days of rain and today is dreary and gray and in the 50’s.
I make many different lentil soups. Lentils are great because they are fast and don’t require the soaking that most beans need. Fortunately I had all these ingredients in the pantry and had this stew ready in a little under an hour with most the work happening while I was out of the kitchen.
The cool tofu sour cream on the top of the stew is the finishing touch for me. I like the temperature variation next to the warm stew. You can use any grain as the base for this stew. The grain isn’t necessary, but it adds a textural counterpoint to the softness of the stew that I find pleasing.
1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
1 onion, finely chopped
2 grated carrots
3 ribs of celery finely diced
2 large garlic cloves, pressed or minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin (toast before grinding)
2 teaspoons ground coriander (toast before grinding)
1 cup dry (uncooked) red lentils (3 cups cooked)
1 bay leaf
3 cups water
juice and zest of 1 lime but you can use lemon
¼ cup of white wine (preferably pinot grigio)
1 24-ounce can crushed tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted), undrained
3 cups artichoke hearts, quartered (2 9-ounce frozen packages)
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
¼ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
¼ - ½ cup of fresh minced cilantro
garnish: tofu sour cream
base: cooked millet/bulgur or quinoa
Heat broth in a large saucepan. Add onion, celery and carrot and sauté on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until golden. Add garlic, cumin, and coriander and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add dried lentils, bay leaf, and water to pan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and add tomatoes and their liquid, and crushed red pepper (if using). Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Add lime juice and zest, white wine and artichokes. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Add salt and black pepper and minced cilantro, or to taste. Serve on top of cooked whole grain of choice, garnish with tofu sour cream and cilantro.
The flavor was very nice, but could use a little more punch. Next time I will increase the crushed red pepper to ½ teaspoon. The millet added a nice contrast of texture under the lentil and artichoke stew. I liked the temperature contrast of the cool tofu sour cream on the top. I think I will save a little minced cilantro for the top of the dish the next time. Overall this was a good start, but there may be a little tweaking of this in the future.