Curried Sweet Potato-Ginger Lentil Soup

January 19, 2009

This is quite possibly the best soup I have ever made.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Vegetables: 2 onions, 1 chunk of ginger, 4 celery stalks, 1 carrot, 1 parsnip, 2 small sweet potatoes (or one very large sweet potato), 1 bunch of spinach

Spices: Curry, turmeric, coriander, cumin, salt

Fats: Olive oil and butter (you can skip the butter if you like)

Lentils: Red (they look orange)

First, prep all the vegetables. Peel and chop the onions. Peel the ginger and cut part of it into thin slices (you want to end up with about 1/4 cup sliced ginger) and mince about 2 tablespoons worth of ginger. Peel and chop the carrots. Peel and dice the sweet potatoes. Wash the celery, chop off and discard the ends, and chop. Wash the spinach, chop off the stems, and chop up the spinach.

Second, make the stock. Saute half the chopped onion in olive oil. When the onion starts getting soft add the spices. I didn’t measure when I made this, but I would estimate that I used between 1/4 and 1/2 teaspoon each of the curry, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and salt. Basically, you want to give each spice a vigorous shake or two over the onions and you want all the onions to turn a nice golden color once you stir it all in. Now add the sliced ginger, carrot, celery, parsnip, and 8-9 cups of water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it all simmer for half an hour. Put a colander in another big pot, then pour the stock into it. The colander catches all the boiled veggie bits and the pot catches the stock.

Third, rinse out the original stock pot and saute some onions in it. You can use olive oil, butter, or a combination. When the onions start getting soft, add the minced ginger and a generous shake of curry, cumin, turmeric, and coriander. Once the onions are very soft, add the sweet potatoes, 1 cup of red lentils, and the stock. Bring the soup to a boil, stirring occasionally, then lower the heat and let it simmer until the lentils fall apart and the sweet potatoes are very soft. Add the spinach and stir. Be sure to add water as the soup boils down – I think I ended up adding 3-4 cups by the time I was through.

Once the spinach is cooked, taste the soup to see if it needs more salt or more water. If you think you’ve added too much water, just keep cooking for a few more minutes, until the broth is nice and strong.


Breakfast at J’s

November 14, 2008

The menu:

  • Fresh squeezed orange and grapefruit juice
  • Pomegranite seeds
  • Garlicky greens
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Walnuts
  • Hard boiled eggs

The technique:

Scrub and slice sweet potatoes into half-inch rounds. Put them on to boil. They’ll be done by the time everything else is ready.

Put eggs on to boil. Turn them off after they’ve been boiling about ten minutes.

Chop the pomegranate in half (be forewarned – the juice splatters everywhere) and pick out all the seeds.

Squeeze grapefruits and oranges. J just bought a juicer, which makes the whole process much faster.

Chop up garlic and greens. Saute garlic in olive oil, add the stemmy parts of the greens, then the leafy parts of the greens. Stir until wilted.

Find the walnuts.

This may be the most antioxidant rich meal I have ever eaten.


First, Get Out the Cutting Board

November 11, 2008

Once the cutting board is out, you’ll chop up a carrot. And maybe a green pepper. And you may as well demolish that celery now that the cutting board’s already out. And, as long as you’re cutting, you might as well have some apple slices in that salad. Getting out the cutting board is the first step to eating well.

Once I got over the psychological hump of washing a cutting board and a knife, my diet really improved. I eat a gigantic apple every morning.* And, once I have the cutting board out, I might as well chop vegetables for lunch.

* I like to eat oatmeal – made with milk and topped with apples and walnuts – on weekday mornings. I don’t consider an apple, even a gigantic apple, enough food for breakfast.