My brother was in a band in high school called The Unmundane. They were pretty good and had a nice little following. I have a couple of their CDs and a t-shirt I wear running. I also have the word “unmundane” in my vocabulary now. It snuck in there at a time in my life when I used either “random” or “sketchy” to describe just about everything.
I probably also used “wicked” a little too much, as in “lentil soup is wicked boring”. Because of that narrow mindset, I almost didn’t make this one from Art of the Slow Cooker, probably because the combination of spices seemed random. But, I was trying to eat less meat and this seemed to fit the bill. I was prepared to choke down a bowl in the name of self-righteous healthiness, but I was surprised on the first bite by its unmundaneness. It wasn’t common, ordinary, banal, OR unimaginative. Instead, it was thick and full of spices and lemon.
Now that we’re definitely entering winter in Boston, it’s time to pull out the slow cooker and some tasty soup recipes. I think the smell of soup cooking all day warms up the house. Can a smell make you feel warmer? Why not? So this afternoon, I’m sitting on the couch covered with a blanket recuperating from a cold and watching The Usual Suspects, smelling the onions browning, because my awesome husband is making dinner for me. I’m counting the hours until I can dig in with a spoon and a big piece of crusty bread. It’s supposed to warm up on Sunday, which is good, because we’ll be out of soup by then.
Unmundane Lentil Soup
Makes 6 servings
|2 TBsp||Sunflower oil||Stolor Organics|
|2 large||Onions||Diced as finely as you want.||Red Fire Farm|
|2 cloves||Garlic||Keith’s Farm|
|2 tsp||Ground coriander|
|1 tsp||Ground cumin|
|1 tsp||Ground turmeric|
|1/2 tsp||Paprika||Use smoked paprika, if you want to mix things up.|
|1/4 tsp||Ground cinnamon|
|1-1/2 tsp||Kosher salt|
|1/2 tsp||Black pepper||Freshly ground|
|6-8 cups||Vegetable broth||See below for notes||Homemade, if you have it. We were out, so we used an organic boxed variety.|
|1 quart||Whole tomatoes with juice||Homemade|
|2 cups||Lentils||We used a mix of red and French green lentils.||Bulk (red) and Baer’s Best (French green)|
|1/8 tsp||Red pepper flakes||More if you like it spicy|
|1/4 cup||Lemon juice||Fresh if you’ve got it|
|3 TBsp||Parsley||Optional, but great; roughly chopped|
|1 TBsp||Cilantro||Optional, but great; roughly chopped||Red Fire Farm|
- If you want to get fancy, use whole coriander and cumin seeds. Toast them in a hot skillet for a couple of minutes, until slightly browned and fragrant, then grind. I don’t usually get fancy and the soup is still great.
- Chop the onions.
- Heat the sunflower oil in a large skillet and cook the onions over medium-high heat until starting to brown. This is the foundation for your soup, so take a little time, maybe 5-8 minutes.
- In another pot, heat the broth until boiling.
- While the onions are browning, measure out and combine all the spices except for the red pepper flakes.
- Add the garlic and spices (except for the red pepper flakes) to the onions and cook until you can smell the garlic.
- Add the tomatoes and juice to the onion mixture. Break up the tomatoes and cook until the juices boil.
- Once the onions and broth are boiling, dump both into the slow cooker. Heating the ingredients to boiling speeds the cooking time and keeps the food away from the Danger Zone, e.g. the temperature range in which nasties thrive. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-10.
- When you’re ready to serve the soup, stir in the red pepper flakes, lemon juice, and fresh herbs. Top with a dollop of yogurt, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Regarding the amount of stock: Red lentils disintegrate and really thicken the soup, so if you use a full two cups of red lentils, you’ll want to use 7 or 8 cups of broth. More broth = soupier soup. Less broth = stewier soup. If you use red lentils and another type of lentils, you can use 6-7 cups of broth.
To make this work on a week day, I cook the onions, garlic and spices the night before, letting them cool down before covering and storing them in the refrigerator. In the morning, I add the tomatoes to the onions and bring them and the broth to a boil while I’m eating breakfast and getting ready for work. Pour everything in the slow cooker, plug it in, leave the dishes in the sink, and run out the door.