Wednesday, 19 January 2011

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don't need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. When you are born a lotus flower, be a beautiful lotus flower, don't try to be a magnolia flower. If you crave acceptance and recognition and try to change yourself to fit what other people want you to be, you will suffer all your life. True happiness and true power lie in understanding yourself, accepting yourself, having confidence in yourself.”

Thich Nhat Hanh, "The Art of Power"

Red Lentils Soup

Smooth, slow and easy. As I went back to my routines after the Christmas break I decided to opt for a slow, easy 'rentree' to take in the benefits of this wonderful resting period and avoid getting frantic in 2 or 3 days … So here is an easy-to-prepare recipe that I'd love to share with you. Slow food means slow eating is required...and enjoy!

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

lentils: 1 cup (approx. 220 gr) of red lentils, washed and drained
onion: ½ onion, chopped
garlic: 1 clove, chopped
turmeric: 1 teaspoon
water: 1 small glass (approx. 150 ml)
extra virgin olive oil: 3 tbsp
vegetable cream: 1 small glass (approx. 100-150 ml, according to taste)
vegetable stock*: 700-800 ml
salt to taste

For garnish:
cumin seeds

*vegetable stock recipe :
onion: 2 diced
carrot: 2 diced
celery: 1 stick diced
leek: 1 diced
tomato: 1 diced
potato: 1 diced (optional)
garlic: 2 cloves
cloves: 5
juniper berries: 5
bay leaf: 2 leaves
extra virgin olive oil: 2tbsp
3-4 fresh parsley or basil stalks
mineral water: 1+ ½ litre (for approximately 800-1000 gr of vegetables)
Pour the olive oil into a heavy-bottomed pan over a medium heat. Add the vegetables, garlic, aromatic herbs and spices, stir together and sweat for 5 minutes. Add water to generously cover the vegetables and turn up the heat to high. Bring to the boil and boil gently for 45/60 minutes.
The more you cook the vegetables the more concentrated and savoury the stock will become!
Sieve the stock into a glass bottle or a pan (you'll get about 800 to 1000 ml of liquid). Discard the vegetable pieces and save for another use. The stock is ready to be used and can be stored in the fridge for up to two days or frozen for future use.
Back to the soup recipe...

Heat up a large pot and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Throw in onion and garlic and cook over a low-medium heat for 20 minutes, until soft (you can add one glass of water to prevent burning!). Add turmeric and salt to taste then throw in the lentils and stir together.
Add vegetable stock and bring to boil. Partially cover, allowing a bit of room for steam to escape, and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until tender. Puree the soup with an immersion blender.
Add vegetable cream, stir again and adjust seasoning.

Heat through and serve, topping each bowl with cumin seeds. Serve with basmati rice or toasted wholegrain bread.

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