Sunday, September 24, 2006
Lentil Soup and Ramadan Mubarak
Yesterday was the beginning of Ramadan, a month of fasting for Muslims. The imporatance of this holiday cannot be overstated- it is to spend time with family, reflect on life, and understand the pain of the less fortunate. Fatour (the breaking of the fast in the evening) is an event every day, when dinner tables are filled with soups, salads, meats, bread, olives, labne, and fruit drinks. Everyone is welcome and the family always eats together. Needless to say, it doesn't feel much like Ramadan when I am so far from our family. Also, my husband is on a buisness trip, so I suppose Ramadan will actually "begin" for us when he returns next week. I promise to have lots of pictures of the foods that are necessary to this yearly occassion. But for now, since I abhor cooking when there is no one to feed, I am back on my "soup diet." I am still craving a taste of Ramadan, and so I decided to make a soup that we always eat this time of year.
1 cup diced onions
1 tb minced garlic
1 tb minced ginger
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced celery
1 tb chaat masala or garam masala
1 tsp cumin
1 bay leaf
1 cup red lentils
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6 cups cold water or stock
1 8 oz can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1. Saute onions, ginger, garlic, carrots, and celery until translucent. Stir in spices and saute for 1 more mintue.
2. Add bay leaf, lentils, chick peas, water, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, and reduce to a simmer.
3. Simmer for 1 hour, replenishing water as needed. Remove the bay leaf and process the soup in a blender until smooth. Pass through a sieve and into another pot. Return to the boil* and taste for seasoning.
Serve with yogurt, chopped parsley and green onion. Serves about 6.
*This step is very important. If you've ever made a pureed soup, but found it didn't taste as it does in a restaurant, it's probably because a good restaurant will always strain this sort of soup through a fine mesh sieve to remove any bits that weren't pureed. In this case, the lentil's skin will be left behind. The strained soup will have a much smoother texture. It is also imperative to re-boil the soup after pureeing, to ensure the soup is free from any microbacteria is may have come into contact with in the blender, or the strainer.