Thursday, August 12, 2010
Middle Eastern Inspired Red Lentil and Rice Soup
Given that we are in the beginning of Ramadan I wanted to make something Middle Eastern inspired in solidarity for my Muslim friend Walid who will be fasting this month while the sun is up. Of course I am not following a recipe but instead I am combining flavors from other dishes that I love. Here is what I made:
Middle Eastern Inspired Red Lentil and Rice Soup
1 red onion, finely diced (allow to stand 10 minutes before cooking)
1 cup of water to sauté the onion
2 cups red lentils
1 cup short grain brown rice
14 cups water
4 teaspoons coriander seed, ground
2 teaspoons cumin, ground
6 whole (12 ½’s) sun dried tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground sour grapes (pictured below)
4 tablespoons nutritional yeast (to add umami that would have come from the traditional chicken stock)
approximately 1 teaspoon mastic grains (pictured below)
2 pinches saffron threads
½ teaspoon garlic powder
black pepper, to taste
dehydrated leeks (which I used in place of crispy fried onions which is traditional)
Water saute the onion until just soft, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and cook until the lentils and rice fall apart. If you like you can puree the soup to make it completely smooth. Taste for seasonings and adjust to your palate. This soup with be better tomorrow if you can wait that long to eat it, we never can. ;-)
To serve top with dehydrated leeks and pass lemon wedges to be squeezed over the soup.
Nutritional Information (doesn’t include lemon and dehydrated leeks):
Amount Per Serving
Calories - 305.07
Calories From Fat (7%) - 22.47
Total Fat - 2.54g
Saturated Fat - 0.25g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 56.56mg
Potassium - 607.17mg
Total Carbohydrates - 55.93g
Fiber - 8.88g
Sugar - 3.53g
Protein - 15.12g
While this isn’t a traditional recipe we like it. We both think the lemon juice and leeks are required. But if you don’t have the leeks at least add the lemon juice. The lemon goes a long way to enhance the flavor of the stew.
Unusual ingredients in the soup recipe:
I used two ingredients in the soup last night that aren’t common in most kitchens so I wanted to share what I know about them.
The first item is mastic grains, also known as mistica. This is common in middle eastern cooking but isn’t commonly found in the US. I buy mine at The Mediterranean Bakery in Alexandria, Virginia but I imagine most Middle Eastern Grocery stores carry it. The only cookbook I own that mentions it is Modern Egyptian Cooking, which my friend Walid brought home from Cairo. The book describes mastic grains as “pale yellow, translucent grains obtained from the resin of the mastic tree. They add a pleasant smell…and are basic of broth and soup.” From my experience they do add a very distinctive aroma but it isn’t overpowering. I find the aroma to be very pleasant so I add it to most of my Middle Eastern inspired long cooked dishes.
The other item I used was ground sour grapes. This is something that picked up with no idea what to do with it though the back of the packages said it was used in Middle Eastern stews. When I pick up things like this I also open the package and taste the item. That gives me a good idea of how to use it. I think this would also be good sprinkled on a fresh fruit or salad. I enjoy the sour quality it added to the soup.
Other things I ate since the last post:
After the big salad for lunch it took me quite a while to get hungry. In fact it was about 6 hours between lunch and my snack that was one big salad. However I did need a snack at about 6:45pm since Dan wasn’t home from work. I had a bowl of frozen grapes. I need to make sure grapes are on my grocery list since I am running low. If you haven’t tried frozen grapes you should. Grapes are so good frozen.
For dinner we had a bowl of the soup, because we couldn’t wait. Well it is probably more accurate to say I couldn’t wait. Dan eats whatever I give him. To go with the soup we had a big salad of romaine, tomato, cucumber, lemon juice and sumac. This is my version of fattoush, no bread. It was definitely a Middle Eastern sort of day.
After we finished eating Dan was certain that taking out the trash earned him strawberry and banana soft serve (no oats). Can you tell how much he likes dessert? ;-) I expected he would ask for this and intentionally gave him a no fat added dinner so there was room in the fat budget. Little did Dan know he would have gotten soft serve whether he asked for it or not. Apparently we have been married so long we are reading each other’s mind now.
No breakfast this morning for me. The soup, salad and soft serve stayed with me much longer than you would have expected. Between not sleeping well and not being hungry I skipped breakfast except for a small glass of fresh vegetable and fruit juice and an iced green tea with ascorbate C to enhance the absorption of the EGCG.
Walid’s mom Nadia is here from Egypt for a couple of months. I cannot wait to see her! She is such a kind and lovely lady. I am going to see how she feels up to teaching me a little Egyptian cooking while she is here. Wish me luck. She doesn’t speak fluent English and I speak no Arabic so this could be a big task. I am hoping since we both speak food it will all work out. Otherwise we may need to get together when Walid is home so he can translate. I just adore Walid’s mom and can’t wait to see her again. If you are reading this, hi mom glad you are going to be here for a while. ;-)
I didn't sleep well again last night and my mood is really no better. Apparently this may be the early symptoms of menopause. Oh joy! Now I know why women consider HRT. I am not really thinking of going there but I can see why others would do it. *rolls eyes* You gotta love this growing older thing, NOT! ;-)
On that note I need to go and get myself some lunch. I am finally starting to get hungry. Talk to you all later.