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February, 2012

Orange Lentil Soup with Sweet Potato

By Heidi Allison

Versatile, fiber-rich and protein-packed, this soup will also help keep your waistline in check by filling you up with less calories and fat!

Yams

This stunning, orange-colored vegetarian lentil soup is hearty winter fare at its best--packed with bold flavors and heart-healthy nutrients, such as beta-carotene. Versatile, fiber-rich and protein-packed, this soup will also help keep your waistline in check by filling you up with less calories and fat! While turmeric and red lentils create a lovely , orange-colored soup on their own, the clever use of Orange Sweet Potato in this recipe not only intensifies its color to a brilliant orange hue, but also lends a smooth, rich and deeply satisfying sweetness that lingers on the tongue – a nice change from Yukon Golds!

The secret to the success of this simple, yet complex-tasting soup is layering its flavors: first by using roasted garlic along with sweet, caramelized onions and carrots; then adding a fried seasoning mix to the soup at the simmer stage, which creates a depth of flavor often lacking in hurry-up, quick weekday soups. It’s also important to finish this legume soup with a secret ingredient – a touch of fresh Meyer Lemon juice right before serving – which “brightens” its flavor. Another secret is using a large, slotted wooden cooking spoon for stirring, which facilitates the gentle breakdown of the lentils during the cooking process, creating a luscious, creamy texture reminiscent of a well-prepared south Indian stew. The good news is… this is a soup that freezes and reheats exceptionally well.

If you are short on time, you can reduce its cooking time by placing the lentil soup in a blender or food processor after 30 minutes; then putting the puréed soup back into a pot and reducing it for 10 minutes more. You’ll get good results, but the flavor will not be as complex as the low-slow version. (This soup will further develop its flavor after sitting in the refrigerator – it tastes even better the next day!) Freeze any unused portion and reheat; then top with a drizzle of light coconut milk on top and minced cilantro for a nice change!

Orange Lentil Soup with Sweet Potato Orange Lentil Soup with Sweet Potato

Serves: 4 as an entrée; 8 as an appetizer

Ingredients:
1 cup Red Lentils, rinsed
1 cup Yellow Split Peas, rinsed
2 Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon Canola Oil
3 large Carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 Onion, peeled and cut into half, then into ¼ inch slices
2 cloves Garlic, peeled
Kosher Flake Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
8 cups Water
½ teaspoon Turmeric
1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
3 teaspoon Yellow Curry Powder
1½ teaspoon Kosher flake salt
3 Roma Tomatoes, cut into half; then into thirds
2 tablespoon Canola Oil
1 tablespoon Red Chile Flakes
2 teaspoon Whole Cumin Seeds
2 tablespoons Brown Mustard Seeds
Juice of ½ Meyer Lemon
1 small bunch of Cilantro, chopped and Light Coconut Milk (optional) to garnish

Preparation:
Place the lentils, yellow split peas and sweet potato into a large pot and add water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer.

Heat toaster oven (or regular oven) to 350 degrees. Place onions, carrots and garlic into a foil-lined pan and drizzle with canola oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss and place veggies into the oven until onions have caramelized and are beginning to brown on the edges, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add to the lentils.

Add turmeric, curry powder, tomatoes, salt and ginger powder to soup, then stir. Cook for 1½ hours.

In a small, non-stick pan, heat canola oil on medium heat and add chile flakes, cumin and mustard seeds. Heat for 1 minute, or until fragrant and just beginning to brown. Pour oil, cumin, chile flakes and mustard seeds into the soup, and stir with a wooden slotted spoon (or use a whisk to break down lentils and split peas). Cook for an additional 50 minutes.

Remove from stove and add juice of half a Meyer lemon, then stir. Ladle into bowls and top with minced cilantro. You can also drizzle 1 tablespoon of light coconut milk over the top for a nice change of flavor and creamier, smoother texture!