Lentil Soup (Dal), and variations

The recipe below is my basic lentil soup recipe. Below that are some variations that I have enjoyed. Both this and the lentil and spinach soup are actually fairly standard Indian curry accompaniments, when served thick. It’s one of those very comforting meals, sating hunger without expanding your waistband.

1 tbsp Earth Balance (vegan margarine) or oil
1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely diced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 lb red lentils
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp lemon juice

Heat the margarine/oil, in a large saucepan, over a medium heat, and fry the onion until it becomes translucent and starts to brown.
Add the garlic and cumin to it, to warm through for a couple of minutes.
Pick the lentils over for stones, and then rinse them.
Add 6 cups (48 fl oz) of water to the onions, then the lentils, and bring to the boil. Simmer the soup until the lentils have completely disintegrated (about 20-30 minutes. The lentils should disintegrate just with vigorous stirring with a spatula).
Adjust consistency with more water, if desired.
Stir in the salt and lemon juice (and any other desired additions); taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Variations:

Lentil and Tomato Soup: Add 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes (halved) to the soup 5 minutes before the end of cooking.

Lentil and Spinach Soup: Add  ~8 oz fresh or frozen spinach to the soup at the end of cooking, along with 1/4 tsp salt.

Chili Lentil Soup: Mince 1/2 cm squared piece of chipotle chili in adobo sauce (check for gluten) with the blade of a knife (so you don’t end up with exciting lumps in your soup), and add with the water and lentils.

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Creamy Zucchini and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

I made this sauce one evening when I wanted to make Rich Mushroom and Black Olive Sauce, but only had 1/2 the mushrooms I wanted and a child who, for stuffed jacket potatosome unfathomable reason, had decided that she didn’t like mushrooms! It has the advantage that it is more colorful than the original, but apart from that is similarly easy to knock together, and it has my husband’s seal of approval!

I have served it up on pasta, and as a stuffing for baked potatoes. It’s also good in the baked tofu shells that I recently figured out as Halloween fare ….. but this sauce is a little too bright and jolly to be served up on that holiday occasion.

These quantities are good for 8 oz of dried pasta (cooked) and 3 – 4 people.

4 oz (1 scant cup) raw cashews
1 tbsp margarine
4 zucchini (courgettes), quartered lengthways then sliced
4 large roasted red peppers, deseeded and cut into 1″ squares
3/4 cup (~40) black olives
1 tbsp light chickpea miso
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt (for the sauce)
1/8 tsp black pepper
pinch of nutmeg

Put the cashews into a blender with 1 cup (8 fl oz) water, and leave to soak, briefly.

Heat the fat in a large frying pan over a medium/high heat, then fry the sliced zucchini (courgettes), stirring occasionally, until softened and starting to brown.

Add the roasted red peppers and black olives, and allow these to warm through over a low heat.

Add the remaining ingredients (miso, lemon juice, salt, pepper, nutmeg) to the cashews, and blend everything together until completely smooth.

Pour the sauce over the vegetables, then use an additional 1/2 cup (4 fl oz) of water to rinse the blender out onto the vegetables.

Turn up the heat, and stir frequently until the mixture thickens.

Check for seasoning, and serve hot with pasta, baked potato or baked tofu shell.

Tofu Coffins

Halloween is just around the corner, and for the first time in their lives, my daughters live in a neighborhood where walking down the street trick or treating is a possibility. Some folks have already decorated their houses in their enthusiasm for the event. I try to discourage my kids’ interest in the candy, but playing with food once in a while does no harm. In previous years, Coffin with mummywe were mostly restricted to Halloween parties at home, drinking tomato juice with stuffed green olive ‘eyes’ floating in it, and eating mashed potato ghosts (tall mounds of stiff mashed potato draped with rice paper). Daughter #1 made a comment about making hollowed out tofu shapes, the other day, and I was suddenly overcome with this idea for tofu coffins. The tofu turned out pretty tasty, so I think this idea (without the rice-paper shroud) could morph into a regular menu offering quite easily. (Try this zucchini and roasted red pepper filling!)

For four coffins:

2 x 14 oz block firm tofu
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
4 tsps nutritional yeast

haggis stuffing or other such stuffing

tomato based sauce (such as ranchero, or marinara)

4 rice papers

Cut the tofu blocks in half, and use a sharp knife to cut slits 1/2″ in from the sides of each of the four blocks to allow you to scoop out the insides and form the coffins. Leave these to dry in the fridge, upside down, for at least an hour and up to overnight. Blot with kitchen paper, if needed.

Raw coffins

Mix the pepper, salt, and nutritional yeast together in a small bowl, and use to dust the sides and insides of the tofu coffins. Place the tofu on baking parchment on a baking (cookie) tray, and bake the coffins for 45 minutes at 400F, or until the texture has turned Cooked coffinsslightly hard at the outer edges.

Heat 1/4″ of water in a large frying pan until finger hot, and soften the first of the rice papers in it for about 30 seconds, keeping the edges of the paper down in the water until it stops curling up. Transfer the paper to a work surface, fashion a 2″ by 1″ sausage out of filling, and drape the rice paper shroud around it before interring it in the coffin. Repeat with the remaining coffins.

Serve with tomato ‘blood’; and cooked, white rice ‘maggots’, if desired.