I have to warn you. I’m a little addicted to soups these days. It isn’t necessarily the cold, since we had a bit of a heat wave in Chicago this weekend (yes 70 degrees in November is hot) but I think its the early darkness. I get asked all the time why I would choose to move from Texas to a place with many months of winter and I respond that I don’t really mind the cold, just the dark. Come February when you leave for work when its dark and come home when its dark since its pitch black at 4PM, it can get a tad depressing. You can always put on a thicker sweater or an extra pair of socks to get warm, but there is nothing you can do about the sun.
I think this is where soup comes in. I can’t think of something more comforting on a dark and cold evening than a bowl of soup. Some soups are all day affairs, especially if you are starting with your own pot of homemade stock. However others, like this Red Lentil, can be whipped up in half an hour. I used Basmati rice because my brown had managed to go bad so it took no time at all to cook. The red lentils break down somewhat in the same way as split pea. I topped mine with some crumbled goat cheese and a little swirl of good olive oil and added a few more spices to the pot.
I picked up my red lentils at the Whole Food bulk bar here at the new location in Chicago. This recipe didn’t make a ton like some other soups but if you wanted to double it and stick the excess in the freezer (you know how I like my freezer) feel free to.
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
1 quart veggie stock plus 2 cups of water (or 6 cups of water)
1 1/2 cup red lentils, picked them over to find any debris
1/2 basmati rice (or any rice of your choice, I would have used brown if I had it)
kosher or sea salt
good olive oil
crumbed goat cheese or feta
In a dutch oven, heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chopped onion and saute for 4 or 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and chipotle peppers and cook for another minute or two. Stir in the broth and water and bring to a boil. Stir in lentils and rice and simmer over medium to medium low heat for about 30 minutes. Add more water if it gets to thick and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with any toppings that you wish. I really enjoyed the goat cheese with the flavors in this simple soup.