Friday, October 30, 2009

Curried Lentil Soup and Roasted Lamb



We recently discovered some soups that we love - Pacific Natural Foods puts them out. One of our favorites is their curried lentil soup. But the sodium content is pretty high, and while that doesn't normally bother me, we ARE trying to eat "cleaner", plus I consider it a learning experience anyway. I wasn't trying to duplicate it perfectly, just get a close approximation that we liked. And I think I hit it pretty well. Mine was a little spicier than the store version, but we liked it.

Curried Lentil Soup


1 cup dried lentils, soaked overnight
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. red curry paste
1/2 cup apple juice
1 1/2 cup chicken stock

Sautee the onion, carrots and garlic over medium-low heat in the olive oil until onions are transluscent and limp. Add curry powder, turmeric, salt, pepper, curry paste and vinegar. Stir to incorporate well, until fragrant, about one minute. Add lentils, bell pepper, and all liquids. Stir to incorporate. Simmer for about an hour, to fully cook the lentils. It's ingredient-intensive, but worth it.

At this point, you could eat the soup chunky, or puree it, like I did. Pootie Pie asked for it smooth. He prefers it that way for a first course. So I got out my immersion blender and went to town. I love that thing.
For the lamb, I started as always, with my ratty-ass baking sheet. (Oh, hush. I have nice ones for real baking.)
Then I pulled out the ubiquitous Reynolds Wrap.
Then I lined the pan with the foil, and "Wa-La!". Clean surface for roasting something on the grill. This saves my grill grates, keeps us from eating those char-bits of food that are supposed to be bad for you, and keeps me from having to cook this in the oven, which smokes up the house. (Have I mentioned I don't have a vent-a-hood?) In case you haven't figured it out yet, I cook food this way  LOTS. I love my gas grill. We had it hooked up to the gas line, so no worrying about propane  refills, and it's on the deck right outside the back door. Very convenient.

With the pan prepared thusly, I salted and peppered the lamb, spread it with dijon mustard, then patted on some bread crumbs and a little more pepper. A short stint on the grill at 450 got it nice and browned on the outside and rare on the inside. Poifect!
We do have quite a bit of soup leftover, so that ought to keep us happy for lunches for a while. Plus a little bit of lamb, and a little of the bay leaf mashed potatoes (boil a potato, push it through a ricer, add skim milk, olive oil, salt and a couple of bay leaves and let it sit and warm and grab some of the bay leaf flavor while you're eating soup and carving the lamb).

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