This is another great recipe that I learned from my mom… although it’s almost more of a hack than a recipe. I’d forgotten all about it until I made a can of lentil soup a few soups and was just astonished at how salty it was. My homemade soups are way less salty. But lately, working full time and wrangling a toddler with the rest of my time has taken up a lot of my cooking energy. So when I need a quick weeknight dinner, this is one of my favourites.
I have been meaning to make a meaty tomato sauce for pasta for ages and ages. I knew I wanted to use lentils but I just wasn’t inspired on how to do it, until I saw this recipe on CBC for red lentil ragu. Theirs isn’t quite what I had in mind though – I wanted pasta, not potatoes as the starch, and I wanted it to be a bit more tomato-y than their proportions allowed. So after a few tweaks, voila! I really like using leeks instead of onions, they make the flavour more subtle.
This ended up being just what I had in mind: vegan but also a perfect match for a little cheese, pasta but more filling. It would also be tasty served with a side of mashed potatoes as almost a deconstructed shepard’s pie.
This is another recipe that comes from my mom, and I thought she was a total genius for using sesame sticks as a soup topping. Apparently she got the idea from the vegetarian restaurant that she first tasted this soup at and it is brilliant! I found these everything sesame sticks the other day and knew they’d make this soup even tastier.
This soup is inspired by the delicious Indian lentil dish tarka dahl (or is it dhal? Googling it for clarification just made me more confused). The red lentils and turmeric in the curry powder give it such a beautiful yellow colour. And I made it very flavourful, but not spicy, just like the tarka dahl we used to get at Curry Original in Kingston.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to share the most amazing cooking tip I learned this week: did you know you can grate onions and it’s about a MILLION times easier than finely chopping them? It’s true! There are times that I want the soothing repetition of chopping onions as finely as I can, but tonight was not one of those times. I just wanted dinner as soon as I could get it. And bonus of grated onion: the small pieces cook much faster and are less noticeable in the final dish. Possibly the perfect way to sneak onions into a dish if you cook for onions haters?
I served it with these fake Red Lobster biscuits which are the perfect match for any soup. And just generally a good way to force Will to eat soup for dinner.
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 1/2 cups red lentils (other colours will also work but won’t be as prettily coloured!)
- 4 1/2 cups of water
- 1 1/2 tsp curry powder (I used a medium spicy one)
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
- to garnish: sesame sticks
Heat the butter and oil on the stove over medium low heat. Peel and grate (or finely chop, if that’s more your style) the onion. Add it to the pan and mince the garlic while the onion cooks. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes until everything begins to soften.
Add the lentils, the seasoning and 4 cups of water to the pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat and then turn the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are soft and begin to break down, about 20 minutes. When the lentils have softened you can blend with an immersion blender if you want a smoother consistency, but I left them as is.
Serve with lots and lots of sesame sticks on top (and more on the side).
A sign of true compatibility: I just realized that Will and I both ate enchiladas for our birthdays. Of course, for my birthday I demanded we go out for dinner, because as much as I enjoy cooking, I don’t usually want to do it on my birthday. So we went to Milagro and drank sangria and ate enchiladas and it was delicious. Whereas when I asked Will what he wanted to do for dinner on his birthday, he requested my cooking, which is a total compliment. I gave him a multitude of options, and he picked enchiladas. Bonded by our love of saucy and cheesy foods!