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How’s everyone’s 2016 so far?  All’s fabulous here…lots more to do getting settled into the new apartment and fantastic new life in Seattle proper!  LOTS and lots of downsizing and purging…when you go from a 3 bedroom 1450 sq ft townhouse to an (awesome) NEW 1 bedroom with 650 sq ft…well, it’s an adjustment!  IMG_0565And an incredible adjustment it is.  Joyous, cleansing and full of happiness.  I’m learning how much I unconsciously “filled” the large spaces in the townhouse with crap I didn’t need.  Kitchen gadgets.  Clothes.  Towels.  Sheets.  God knows what else.

Now I’m learning that everything…EVERYTHING in the new apartment needs to Earn. Its. Keep.  Everything’s gotta count!  That means choosing pieces which are best sellers that not only are beautiful but are functional as well.  Exhibit A:  the gorgeous 6 3/4 quart (~6.3 l) Le Creuset cast iron Dutch oven…my housewarming gift to myself!  This will last me a lifetime…and it was a terrific find at an outlet about an hour drive north.  It’s a “closeout” color – love the gorgeous blue!

I’m continuing my love affair with making soup from scratch, which started probably 3-4 years ago.  Search on “soup” in here and see what pops up!

E and I made a delicious red lentil soup with North African spices we found in a recent issue of Cook’s Illustrated.  As the recipe explains, red lentils are relatively quick and easy to cook, as their skins are already removed.  Meaning, no hours of soaking required!  Hooray! We just gave these a quick rinse in a colander and they were good to go.  Don’t have a stick blender to puree your soup?  No problem here.  Just grab a large whisk and give the soup a whirl at the end of the cooking process to give it a coarse texture.

Serves 4 to 6

  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 C chicken broth
  • 2 C water
  • 10.5 oz (1 1/2 cups) red lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 2 T lemon juice, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried mint, crumbled
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 C chopped cilantro

Melt 2 T butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and 1 tsp salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.  Add coriander, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne and 1/4 tsp pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in broth, water and lentils and bring to a simmer.  Simmer vigorously, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft and about half are broken down, about 15 minutes.

Whisk soup vigorously until it is coarsely pureed, about 30 seconds.  Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and extra lemon juice to taste.  Cover and keep warm.  The soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.  Thin the soup with water, if desired, when reheating.

Melt remaining 2 T butter in a small skillet.  Remove from heat and stir in mint and paprika.  Ladle soup into individual bowls, drizzle each portion with 1 tsp spiced butter, sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Fivenineteen notes:  Oh my goodness, just one clove of garlic??  Criminal!  Don’t skimp here…rather, we used an entire head.  And feel free to amp up the spices much more than this recipe called for.  We did use a few ounces more than the 10.5 called for, and I think that made the soup a lot more bland than we liked.  That’s what leftovers are for, right?  Time to add more spices!  We also used salted butter and it made no difference.

Buon appetito!