If you want the weather to take a turn in South Florida, apparently all one needs to do is blog about the 'unseasonably warm' weather you're having. The nighttime temp dropped from a breezy 76 degrees to a chilling 40 something. Cold enough for our patio kitty to give us that 'you're going to set up my cage and let me sleep inside tonight, aren't you?' stare.
Chilly enough to take one look at my newly blended carafe of Caesar dressing and declare, 'Um, no. Let's have soup!'.
(please forgive the poor picture. the one taken via my phone was actually more editable than those from my camera. curse you, dinner time lighting!)
This soup is one I happened upon while perusing 101 Cookbooks for a pizza dough recipe. I'm not even sure what led me to it, but I knew when I read it it was one I had to try. Lentils, lemon, cilantro? Yes, please! Adapted from Deborah Madison's Red Lentil Soup with Lime recipe in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, it's hearty but bright and uses the lemons which are looking so good around here right now.
Obviously, this vegan version does not include the yogurt suggested in the original recipe. I don't think a substitute is at all necessary. Also, I opted to nix the rice and in it's place serve with roasted cauliflower (the more veggies, the better, I say!). I love how the sweetness of the onions and roasted cauliflower compliment the tart lemon juice. I increased the mustard seed just a tad, decreased the cumin a smidge, and added zest to the final bowl, just to suit our tastes. We loved this soup, it was really flavorful, filling but not heavy, and hearty with a bright burst of lemon tang. It will definitely be added to our go-to soup arsenal.
Red Lentil Soup with Lemon (and Spinach and Cauliflower)
2 cups red lentils, rinsed and picked through
7 cups water
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, diced small
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 teaspoons mustard seed
1 1/2 teaspoons
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 3 lemons
zest of one lemon
5 cloves garlic, slivered (divided)
2 small - medium heads cauliflower, washed, dried completely*, cut into smallish florets
2 large bunches fresh spinach, chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place cauliflower in parchment covered Pyrex dishes, roasting pan, or lipped baking sheet (I use two Pyrex casserole dishes). Add one tablespoon of olive oil and a few pinches of sea salt and toss to coat evenly. *you want to be sure to start with dry cauliflower so it roasts well without steaming so much first. the result is a better browned, sweeter roasted cauliflower.
Place lentils and water in large stock pot. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, turmeric, and 2 teaspoons of sea salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft and falling apart, about 20-25 minutes.
While lentils are cooking, place cauliflower in oven for 20-25 minutes. During the last 10-15 minutes, add 4 cloves of slivered garlic, and toss to evenly distribute. Put back in oven.
Place last tablespoon of oil in large skillet on medium heat, add remaining slivered garlic and heat for about 30 seconds, careful not to let garlic burn. Add spinach and a pinch or two of sea salt. turn carefully with tongs to coat. Add 1 tablespoon of water and cover. Lower heat, allowing spinach to wilt.
Using a stick/immersion blender, blend lentils until smooth. (you can do this in batches in a blender or food processor as well, but a stick blender is invaluable for tasks such as this one!). Taste for salt. My husband added a bit more. Me? Not so much. To each their own! Stir in the fresh squeezed lemon juice (I'm sure bottled juice tastes fine, but fresh really makes this soup, I think). Place serving of soup in bowl, add roasted cauliflower. Squeeze out excess water from wilted spinach and serve some of that in the same bowl. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of lemon zest on top and enjoy!
Bad, yellow dinner time lighting and all!