Meatless Monday – Roasted Red Pepper and Red Lentil Soup

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This is a One Pot Wonder!  Soup is known to be a comforting and healing food. I just got my first cold of the year, possibly a result of the multiple cross country airplane flights I’ve taken or maybe its just a change of season sniffles.  I was craving warm, hearty and a bit spicy to clear everything up.  So soup was a natural choice. My friend, Sandy had just given me a platter of roasted red peppers and tomatoes that she said her family wouldn’t eat.  Their loss was my gain and the inspiration for today’s soup.  I decided to pair both roasted red veggies with red lentils to make a flavorful and spicy soup.  Yum…  Just what the doctor ordered.

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People often ask me  if I’m getting enough protein since I’ve stopped eating meat. The answer is YES! This soup is rich in protein as well as vitamins and minerals, from both the lentils and the veggies. The protein content of Red Lentils is comparable to that of one serving of meat, but generally healthier because they contain low levels of fat. In one cup of red lentils, you consume nearly 18 grams of protein which is the same as one 3-ounce serving of chicken breast but without the 3 grams of fat. Lentils are also rich in slow-digesting carbohydrates and dietary fiber that keep you feeling full and satisfied.  (Read:  Less likely to find yourself standing back in front of the open refrigerator.) I will throw one last little factoid at you.  We learned from Eating the Rainbow that red foods (especially tomatoes) are loaded with lycopene, an important antioxidant which is good for a healthy heart, lowering the risk of some cancers and protecting the skin from ultra-violet light. So dig in!

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TIPS:  Okay. I was just given roasted tomatoes and red peppers, however, if you don’t have the time or inclination to roast them yourself, you can buy them already roasted in jars or substitute a can of fire roasted tomatoes and saute diced red peppers with the onions.

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ROASTED RED PEPPER AND RED LENTIL SOUP

2 Tbsn olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 red bell peppers
2-3 large red tomatoes (or one can of fire roasted tomatoes)
1 red chili pepper (or jalapeno)
2 cups dried red lentils
8 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp cumin
1/4 – 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

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  • If roasting red peppers (and tomatoes), broil until the skin has blackened, 5-8 minutes.  Turn to broil the other side.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Roughly chop and set aside.

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  • In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil and saute the onion, chili pepper, and garlic and saute several minutes.

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  • Add the red peppers and tomatoes and stir to combine.

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  • Add the lentils, vegetable stock and spices and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.

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  • Let the soup cool slightly and puree in a food processor or blender.  You may have to do it in two batches.

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  • Clean the stockpot and return the soup to the pot.  Reheat.

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  • Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt, sliced chili peppers or fresh herbs.

Roasted Red Pepper and Red Lentil Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 Tbsn olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 red bell peppers
2-3 large red tomatoes
1 red chili pepper
2 cups dried red lentils
8 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp cumin
1/4 -1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

  • If roasting red peppers(and tomatoes), broil until the skin has blackened, 5-8 minutes.  Turn to broil the other side.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Roughly chop and set aside
  • In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil and saute the onion, chili pepper, and garlic and saute several minutes.
  • Add the red peppers and tomatoes and stir to combine.
  • Add the lentils, vegetable stock and spices and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Let the soup cool slightly and puree in a food processor or blender.  You may have to do it in two batches.
  • Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt, sliced chili peppers or fresh herbs.

Wheatless Wednesday- Dhal Lentil Soup with Quinoa Cauliflower Cakes

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Dhal Lentil Sou[p

Red Lentil Soup with Quinoa  Cauliflower Cakes

I have an ongoing love affair with lentils which come in various colors and sizes.  I’m not picky.  My favorites are the French Green and the Black Beluga, both which hold their shape and don’t turn to mush unless you overcook them. I use them often for salads or side dishes.   I have opted to use Red Lentils which are traditional for this dish. Red lentils are softer and do get mushy which works well with soup.  The original recipe calls a lot of coconut milk.  I don’t want the extra calories so substituted vegetable broth for two-thirds of the liquid.

Dhal is usually served with rice but since its Wheatless Wednesday, I have decided to get more creative and have paired the soup with Quinoa & Cauliflower Cakes.  Since the quinoa cake recipe calls for only half the cauliflower, I thought it would be interesting to add the rest of the cauliflower to the soup, so we get cauliflower (one of my other current loves) two ways.

I got the idea for the Dhal and the Quinoa & Cauliflower Cakes from the ‘Vegetarian Everyday’ cookbook, which is also where I got the cauliflower pizza crust so I had high hopes. I did a test run of the cakes recipe over the weekend while my college boys were still home.  They were quite a hit, very tasty and a great use for leftover quinoa (although other grains would probably work too). This is not a carb free recipe, although they are all good carbs.  The oats are high in fiber and rich in antioxidants, and the quinoa is high in protein, magnesium, iron and calcium and its gluten free. Gluten free oats are available as a gluten free alternative. The quinoa needs to be rinsed before cooking to wash off the saponin powder which is a naturally occurring protectant to make the seeds unpalatable to birds.  Rinse until the water is clear and use a fine mesh colander as the seeds are pretty small and you will lose them down the drain.

The recipe also calls for ramps, which are a type of wild garlic usually only available in spring or summer.  I remember buying ramps at a farmer’s market in Maine last summer but didn’t really know what to do with them.  I think I added them to sautéed vegetables.  They are fresh and mild, not sharp like regular garlic.  I was unable to find ramps here in December so substituted spinach and garlic. My taste testers all agreed that the cakes would be even better with a sauce, so I paired the leftovers with a homemade Tzatziki sauce and brought them to a Niners game the next day where every last crumb was devoured.  They were just as good the next day, warmed up in the oven.  The yield is large so feel free to cut the recipe in half.

Dhal Red Lentil Soup

½ Tbsn coriander seeds or ground coriander

½ tsp mustard seeds or ground mustard

½ tsp cardamom seeds or ground cardamom

2 teaspoons curry powder

½ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp  ground ginger

¼ tsp chili powder

6 dried apricots, chopped

1-2 cups vegetable stock

1 can coconut milk

1 cup dry red lentils, rinsed

3 Tablespoons olive or coconut oil

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

salt and pepper, to taste

 

2 carrots, sliced

½ -1 head cauliflower, cut into florets

Handful of fresh spinach

 

  • If you are using whole seeds, crush them into a powder with a mortar and pestle.  Combine the spices and the apricot into a small bowl.
  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the spice mix and saute, stir continuously, until its fragrant.  Add the onion and garlic and saute until onion is translucent.
  • Add the cauliflower and carrots and stir to coat. Then add the lentils and broth.  Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste. If you want it a bit spicier add red curry paste and/or red pepper flakes to taste.  Just before serving add spinach and stir to combine.

Dhal Lentil Sou[p

[/recipe]

Quinoa Cauliflower Cakes with Tzatziki Sauce

  • Servings: 8-12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Dhal Lentil Sou[p

Quinoa Cauliflower Cakes with Tzatziki Sauce

(Makes 12 large or 24 small cakes)

1 cup quinoa

1 2/3 cups cauliflower florets

1 large handful wild garlic or ramps (or 1 cup fresh spinach cut into ribbons and 2 cloves garlic, minced)

4 large eggs

1 1.3 cups crumbled feta cheese

¾ cup rolled oats

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp coconut, avocado or olive oil for frying

 

  • Combine 2 ¼ cups water, the quinoa and a pinch of salt in a medium sized saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and gently simmer for about 15 minutes or until you see small tails (the germ) on the quinoa seeds.  Drain any excess water and set aside to cool.
  • Place cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until it is a rice-like texture.  Transfer to a bowl and add the quinoa, beaten eggs, ramps (or spinach and garlic), feta, oats and salt and pepper.  Stir until well combined.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Form the mixture into 12 patties with your hands.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan on medium high heat.  Add 4 patties at a time and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown.  Flip carefully and brown the other side a few more minutes.  Continue until all patties are cooked. Drain on paper towels.

Spinach ribbons
TIp:  An easy way to cut spinach is to stack the leaves and slice widthwise into thin ribbons.

Tzatziki Sauce

1 16oz container plain non-fat yogurt

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced

1 Tbsn olive oil

1 Tbsn lemon juice

1-2 tsp fresh dill

2 cloves garlic

  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. If it’s watery or too sour for your taste, add a bit of mayonnaise which will thicken it up and offset the sour.Tzatziki can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator several days.