Friday, April 4, 2008

thesis: lentils. antithesis: limes. synthesis: great soup. praxis: go make it right now

fact: in 2005 Mexico produced the plurality of global output of lime (ringing in at 12%), followed closely by India, Argentina, Iran and Brazil.

fact: limey, a term often used to describe brits, especially sailors, derives from the daily rations said sailors would receive of lime, in their colonial sojourns, to prevent scurvy. you don't need to identify with mother england to appreciate a good nutrient.

fact: when you spend most of your days in the library, and your idea of a vegetable is the garlic in timmy's garlic cream cheese, it's time to worry about scurvy.

lentil lime soup to the rescue.

fact: to change your life for the better, short of graduation, you will need:
2 cups split red lentils, be sure to rinse and check for tricky little pebbles
1 tablespoon turmeric
4 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, finely diced, about 2 cups
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoons mustard seeds
1 bunch chopped cilantro, about 1 cup
Juice of 3 limes, or to taste

Possible toppings/fillings:
1 large bunch spinach leaves, chopped into small pieces (iron is best digested when with citrus)
1 cup cooked rice
crumbled feta
a (half) dozen corn tortillas (pitas) torn up and sauteed in olive oil

What is to be done?Put your lentils in a soup pot, along with 10 cups of water, the turmeric, 1 tablespoon of butter, and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer (covered) until lentils are soft and falling apart. DM claims this takes 20 minutes. In my experience, this takes 40.

As the soup is cooking, for a disputable amount of time, get going on the onions. In a medium skillet over low heat, put in 2 tablespoons butter, the onion, cumin and mustard seeds. It will smell GREAT. When the lentils are soft, about 15-20 minutes, add cilantro to the onions and cook a minute or two more. Add mixture to the soup.

Wait until the soup seems ready to you. Then add the lime juice. If you aren't sure how much to put in, I usually start with two and end up with three. You've gone too far if on tasting the soup you spontaneously exclaim "blimey, that's limey," though, given the health benefits noted above, it's not too much of a problem.

Right before serving, put the last tablespoon of butter into a wide skillet (or the skillet you used for onions, saves dishes!), when it's foamy, put in the spinach and a dash of salt, and cook for just as long as it takes to wilt. Serve the soup, dish out spinach on top, and distribute other fillings/toppings as desired. My favourite combo is feta and corn tortillas.


PS this recipe is from Deborah Madison.

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