Red Lentil Soup

I realize I have been missing in action on the blog lately, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been contraire!  Despite my desire to share more recipes, I have been busy with the daily routines of taking care of my family.  On that note, here is an easy and quick soup recipe for those of you who don’t have the time to fuss in the kitchen.  It's hearty and comforting – perfect to enjoy during the cold months.

Red lentils are seeds from legume plants that split in half after hulling.  Unlike beans, they cook quickly and are perfect in a soup. Lentils are inexpensive yet they are rich in plant protein. They are a good source of fiber and also contain folate, manganese, iron, phosphorous, copper, vitamin B1, zinc, vitamin B6 and potassium.

2 cups red lentils
8 cups water or broth
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp turmeric
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp butter
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Juice of one lemon

Rinse and drain lentils.  Combine lentils and water (or broth) in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for ½ hour, stirring occasionally.  When lentils are tender, add cumin and turmeric to the pot.  Sauté the onions and garlic in butter until golden brown, then add to soup mixture.  Simmer for 5 additional minutes.  Remove from heat, add lemon juice and stir.  Garnish with parsley and/or paprika before serving.

Roasted Eggplant Soup

This is an old favorite that I almost forgot about.  As my tomato harvest started to dwindle I began thinking about what I could add to my pureed soups and eggplant came to mind! Eggplant is a vegetable from the nightshade family, which also includes bell peppers, tomatoes and potatoes.  According to Dr. Mercola, eggplants don’t have an overwhelming supply of any one specific nutrient.  They do however contain fiber and an array of various vitamins and minerals, including folate, potassium, manganese, vitamins C, K, and B6, as well as phosphorus, copper, thiamin, niacin, magnesium and pantothenic acid.  Eggplants also contain powerful antioxidants which neutralize damaging free radicals in the body.  

This recipe is adopted from the Smitten Kitchen.

1 large eggplant, cut in half lengthwise
3 – 4 large tomatoes, cut into halves
1 medium onion, cut into large wedges
6 garlic cloves, peeled
Extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp. each ground cumin and coriander, optional
4 cups bone broth
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Feta or goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Arrange eggplant, tomatoes, onion and garlic on a baking sheet.  Brush with olive oil and roast for 20 minutes.  Remove the garlic cloves (to prevent them from burning) and set aside. Continue roasting for an additional 20 – 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool. Remove skin from eggplant.  Place eggplant, tomatoes, onion, garlic, spices, and broth into a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes.  Once slightly cooled, puree soup to a desired consistency and season with sea salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with feta or goat cheese prior to serving.

Cream of Garlic Soup

This is a nourishing and delicious soup that's perfect for the cold and flu season.  It's satisfying and creamy, without any dairy or thickeners.  
Garlic is a potent antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal agent.  It contains essential enzymes and antioxidants for bone formation, connective tissue metabolism, calcium absorption and proper thyroid function, to name a few.  Garlic is also a good source of vitamins B-6 and C, as well as minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, manganese and selenium.  It also helps in removing heavy metals and preventing ailments such as the common cold, heart disease, some types of cancers.  Garlic has even been credited with slowing the aging process.

2 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, sliced
1 leek, white parts only, chopped
1 celery stalk, diced
2 garlic bulbs, cloves peeled
1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
3 - 4 cups broth
1/3 cup white wine (optional)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Melt butter in a large heavy-based pot.  Add onion, leek, celery and whole garlic cloves.  Cook over low heat until vegetables are soft but not browned.  Add cauliflower, broth, white wine, bay leaf and thyme, and bring to a boil.  Cover pot, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender.  Allow soup to cool slightly before removing bay leaf.  Puree soup in a blender until smooth and return to pot.  Season with sea salt and pepper to taste. 

Tomato Gazpacho

This cold soup originated in Spain and traditionally was made of stale bread, olive oil, and garlic blended with water or vinegar and pounded in a mortar.  Over time this soup evolved into different varieties, the most popular being a tomato based.  Also gazpacho has become a generic term for cold soups with any vegetable or fruit base.

Great when the weather is hot and the tomato season is at its peak, this soup is very easy to prepare and doesn’t require any cooking. It’s hearty and flavorful yet amazingly refreshing, since it is served chilled.  I looked at many different recipes and ended combining several to come up with the one I liked best.

4 large tomatoes
1 bell pepper
1 cucumber
1 small yellow or red onion
2 garlic cloves
2 - 3 Tbsp. vinegar (white or red wine)
¼ extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

Skin 3 of the tomatoes by blanching them in boiling water for about a minute until their skins start to wrinkle and split.  Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of ice water.  Once cooled, peel back the tomato skins. 
For the base, liquefy the skinned tomatoes, 1 of the garlic cloves, vinegar and olive oil in a blender until completely smooth.  If you don’t have a high-speed blender you many want to strain the base after blending. 
Dice the remaining tomato, bell pepper, cucumber, and onion.  Mince the garlic clove. Combine all the vegetables into the base in a large bowl, mix well and chill before serving.  The longer the gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.  I like to serve this soup with sliced avocado and cilantro garnish.

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Summer is in full swing and the tomato harvest has begun!  I wait for this all year because there is nothing like the taste of a homegrown tomato.  The abundance means we eat tomatoes at almost every meal in one form or another.  This tomato soup recipe is adopted from Sprouted Kitchen and is one of my favorites.

4 large ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
3 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1 ½ cups broth of choice
1 Tbsp. tomato paste or 2 Tbsp. tomato sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Arrange tomatoes, onion and garlic on a baking sheet.  Drizzle or brush with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.  Roast for 30 - 40 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down. Remove and cool slightly.  Warm the broth and stir in the tomato paste.  Add the roasted tomato mixture along with the herbs.  Let simmer for about 10 minutes.  Puree the soup to desired consistency.  You may need to run it through a fine mesh sieve, if a smooth consistency is preferred.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  Garnish with fresh basil and serve.