Spiced Lentil Soup

Spiced Lentil Soup

Spiced Lentil Soup

Dedicated to my fellow parishioners at the Episcopal Church of St. Luke in the Fields, Greenwich Village, NYC

IngredientsVegan
7 cups Vegetable Broth
2 cups Red Lentils, dry, rinsed
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 cups Sweet Yellow Onion, diced
2 cups crushed Tomatoes
1/2 cup flat-leaf Parsley, chopped fine
1 cup Celery, diced
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp ground Cumin
1 tsp Zaatar
1/2 tsp Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp ground Marjoram
1/2 tsp ground Coriander Seed
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1/4 tsp ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Lemon Zest
1/4 tsp Salt

Lemon wedges

Directions:

  • In a gallon size pot on medium heat, combine the Onion, Salt, Pepper, and Olive Oil; cook until the onions softens.
  • Add the Garlic, Lemon Zest, Lemon Juice, and Celery. Continue to saute until the Celery starts to soften.
  • Add all the other spices, and mix well so that the spices get into the oil and juices in the pot.
  • Add the Tomato, Vegetable Broth, and Lentils; bring to a boil, stirring often so that nothing sticks.
  • Reduce to a simmer, add the Parsley, and let cook until the Lentils become tender.
  • Taste, and adjust the seasoning and spices to your preferred tastes.
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wedge. Squirt the juice on the Soup.

Makes about 6 servings

NOTES:Lentil Soup is eaten in various parts of the world. This recipe utilizes spices from Northern Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Zaatar a spice blend used in North Africa, especially Egypt and Libya, often added to meats or rubbed in olive oil on flat bread. It is made up of Sumac, Oregano, Sesame Seed, often with other spices.

Lentil soup can be modified to your prefered tastes and needs. You can add chopped spinach or kale, or diced carrots or sweet potatoes. Keep in mind if you add additional starches, you may need to add additional spices. This meal is vegan, however one can add meat like chicken or lamb to it–or even sausage. It is also common to garnish with sour cream or yogurt.

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Tabbouleh – تبولة

Ingredients:
1 cup Bulgur Wheat
2 cups Boiling Water
3 Plum Tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 Cucumbers, peeled and diced
3 Green Onions, diced fine
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley, chopped
1/3 cup fresh Mint, chopped
1 tsp Cumin, ground
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, ground
1/2 cup Lemon Juice
2/3 cup Olive Oil

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, soak the Bulgur Wheat and Boiling Water for 30 minutes.
  • Using a cheese cloth, squeeze out any excess liquid from the Bulgur Wheat.
  • Return to a bowl and combine all ingredients. Mix well.

NOTES: Tabbouleh was another New York discovery for me – not having ever experienced it in Georgia or Ohio. I fell in love with it. It is light and fluffy and highly flavorful. Thanks to my love Michael for introducing it to me.

Fennel Chicken with Couscous

Dedicated to Christopher S.

Ingredients:
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Ginger
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Coriander Seed, ground
1 tsp Salt
4 boneless, skinless, Chicken Breasts, butterfly cut
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 medium Red Onion, diced
1 Fennel Bulb, halved and sliced (1/4″ slices)
1 Tbsp Lemon Zest
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
2 Tbsp Cornstarch

1 cup uncooked Whole-Wheat Couscous
2 cups Water
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Juice of 1 Lemon

Directions:

  • Combine the Spices and Salt in a small bowl.
  • Sprinkle over the Chicken breasts, making sure to get the spices on both sides.
  • In a skillet, heat the Olive Oil on medium heat and add the Chicken, cooking for 5 minutes each side.
  • Remove from the Chicken and set aside.
  • Add the Garlic, Onion, Fennel, and Lemon Zest, cooking until the Fennel is tender or about 5 minutes.
  • In a bowl whisk together the Cornstarch and the Chicken Broth, then add to the Fennel.
  • Heat for another 7-10 minutes, allowing a sauce to form.
  • Heat the Water in a sauce pot.
  • When boiling, remove from the heat and add the Couscous.
  • Fluff the Couscous with a fork, adding the Lemon Juice and Olive Oil.
  • Serve the Chicken on a bead of Couscous with the Fennel sauce over it.

NOTES: Couscous كسكس is a pasta that is common in northern Africa and the Middle East. Near East® makes a good whole wheat Couscous. Also, I prefer small grained Couscous, as it feels fluffier than the larger versions.  This dish is also very tasty without couscous over a bed of Spinach. I have made this recipe suitable for those on low-carb high-protien diets at the request of my bud Christopher S.

Falafel – فلافل

Ingredients:Vegan
2 cups Chickpeas (dried, soaked 24 hours or canned)
1 medium Onion, diced
4 cloves Garlic, crushed
3 Tbsp fresh Parsley, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh Cilantro, chopped (optional)
1 Tbsp fresh Mint, chopped (optional)
1 1/2 tsp Coriander powder
1 1/2 tsp Cumin powder
1/2 tsp crushed Red Pepper
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 Tbsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper

3 cups Olive Oil for frying
1 Lemon

Directions:

  • Drain the Chickpeas from water/can solution.
  • Add the Chickpeas and all ingredients (except oil and Lemon) into a food processor.
  • Pulse the mixture until it resembles bread crumbs. If needed, add a small, small amount of water to aid in the pulsing. Do not over pulsate, or it will turn into a hummus-like mixture. You want it grainy.
  • Using your hands, form small 1″ balls from the mixture. I prefer to then squish the balls making a small patty. This is easier for pan-frying. If you are going to use a deep fryer, the balls are best.
  • In a skillet, add the oil and heat to 350°.
  • Using a spatula, place the patties in the oil. Let cook for 2 1/2 minutes then carefully flip. Cook another 2 1/2 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack or papertowel-lined plate.
  • Squeeze the juice of the lemon over the falafel.

NOTES:
History: Falafel is originally from Egypt, and was made with Fava beans. Most Middle Eastern variations use Chickpeas, either mixed with Fava beans, or exclusively. The herbs and spices can be modified to suit your taste. Some recipes add Sesame seeds to the mix.
The Chickpeas: Either use canned, or dried. For dried, soak them at least 24 hours in water. Keep in mind that they will triple in size and may need more water.

Serving Options:
Serve with Tahini, or Tzatziki as a finger food.
Serve with lettuce, tomato, tahini, Tzatiki, in a split Pita like a sandwich.
Serve atop a salad.

Hummus – حمّص

Hummus

Ingredients:Vegan
16 0z Chickpeas
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 1/2 Tbsp Tahini
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp fresh Parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper (optional)

Well Garnish:
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
5 Parsley Sprigs, cut short
3 Kalamata Olives
1/4 tsp Sesame Seeds

Pita Bread

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a Food Processor, and pulse until desired consistency. If needing more creamy, add more Olive Oil.

To Serve, pour into a bowl and make a well, and add Well Garnish. Serve with warm, grilled, or toasted Pita Bread

NOTES:  “Hummus” or حمّص is Arabic for “chickpeas”.   The Spanish word is Garbanzo Beans, so if you do not see Chickpeas in your store, look for the Spanish name. There is no difference in what you’re buying… “a rose by any other name…”