Monday, February 21, 2011

Roasted Carrot-Parsnip & Lentil Soup for Rainy Winter

You'd think, perhaps, after writing 3 cookbooks, I might be accustomed to the thought of other people actually feeding themselves from one of my recipes, but no! Every time, it's a surprise and a thrill. Especially when it comes from a friend. My pal Susie Bright sent me an email a couple of days ago, headlined "Yr recipe is my command" with this, her own picture of the carrot-lentil soup I've been going on about. And she said it was delish, even cold! So nice to hear and see...

So, back to the ladies' luncheon...Trying to make multi-grain rolls, lemon-buttermilk cake, and soup all at once, along with taking out the recycling, throwing all the shoes into the closet and setting the table, was a little crazy. (Such is studio living--everything's right there, all in one room, and how I long for the days of my glamorous, by comparison, Brooklyn one-bedroom, with an actual door that could be closed on fallen sweaters and an unmade bed.)

So I didn't end up roasted the tomatoes like I'd planned, but you should. I also had another thought, long after the soup was made, that parsnips, those tough, unappreciated wallflowers of the root-veggie bin, would be a really nice addition. So, here's the recipe, partly how I made it, partly how it should have been made. And again, mess around the spicing as you wish. This had a nice, vaguely smoky-Moroccan thing going on, but you should suit your own taste. I would go for the seedy/barky/warming spices though, rather than leafy green things like basil or dill.

Roasted Parsnip, Carrot, and Lentil Soup

1 lb carrots, peeled but left whole
1/2 lb parsnips, peeled, split if large
olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes
1 ornion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chipotle pepper or smoked paprika (pimenton)
1 tsp pure chile powder
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup red lentils
Water or chicken broth as needed
Lemon and plain yogurt, creme fraiche, or sour cream for serving

1. Preheat oven to 450F. Lay carrots and parsnips out on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roll around until well coated.

2. Drain liquid from tomatoes, and set aside. Halve tomatoes and place, cut sides up, on a baking sheet. Put both baking sheets into the oven. Roast, turning occasionally, until carrots are tender and browned here and there, about 15-20 minutes. Add sliced onions to the carrot pan and roast for another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Remove both baking sheets from the oven. Let carrots rest until cool enough to handle. Dice carrots, parsnips, and onions. Roughly chop tomatoes, reserving any juices.

4. In a deep saucepan, saute carrot mixture with garlic and spices for a minute or two. Add tomatoes and lentils, along with reserved tomato liquid and juices. Add water and/or chicken broth to cover. Stir well and bring to a simmer.

5. Partially cover and cook, stirring frequently, until lentils are tender and have broken down to a nubbly sludge, adding more water or broth as needed. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt if necessary. Depending on the texture, feel free to attack this with an immersion (stick) blender, or to puree some or all of it in a food processor or blender.

6. Add a squeeze of lemon before serving, if desired. Top with a dollop of yogurt, creme fraiche, or sour cream for serving. A sprinkle of fresh cilantro leaves would also be nice.

As mentioned in an earlier post, you could also add some diced or crushed canned pineapple in unsweetened pineapple juice shortly before serving.

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