Tangled Branches: Satiated
riveting tales of how we sustain ourselves
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Madhur Jaffrey Does It Again: Lentil Soup
You know how lentil soup can be kind of heavy and stodgy? What would you say to one that isn't? Madhur Jaffrey makes a lentil and shrimp soup inspired by a Filipino dish of mung beans and shrimp - she's written it up in her excellent book, Madhur Jaffrey's Cookbook. I changed it a bit to suit the ingredients I had on hand.
I've been trying to keep the fridge and pantry lightly stocked lately - the fridge failure made me realize that it's not all that efficient to store large quantities of perishable food. Too many things are wasted because they're second or third choice, and I leave them in storage until they go bad.
I had some chicken wing tips in the freezer, cut off and saved the last time I broiled chicken wings. There's no requirement that you must make a huge batch of chicken broth - you can make a very small one with just a few pieces of chicken leftovers, a small amount of water and a few seasonings.
And there was some fresh salsa leftover from the previous night.
Half a bunch of cilantro (store-bought, sad to say).
And about a third of a bag of lentils in the pantry.
I always have onions, garlic, limes, and olive oil on hand.
The only thing I needed to buy was shrimp.
My adaptation from Madhur Jaffrey's Cookbook, Lentil Soup with a Flavor of the Philippines, p. 219:
Chop 1 medium-large onion finely. Heat a spoonful or so of olive oil in a large saucepan (I used my 3.5-quart "everything" pan). Cook the onion until it starts to brown. Add 3/4 cup sorted and rinsed lentils, and 4 cups chicken broth. Cook 20 minutes and taste for salt, add if needed. Continue to cook until lentils are cooked through.
Meanwhile shell, devein, and slice lengthwise 1/4 lb. medium size shrimp. Chop 3 cloves garlic finely. Heat a few spoonsful of olive oil in a frying pan. Add the chopped garlic and stir it around for a few seconds until it smells good and is starting to brown. Add the sliced shrimp and stir until just cooked through. Remove shrimp to a plate (leaving the oil and as much garlic as possible in the pan). Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper. Add leftover salsa to the frying pan. If I didn't have leftover salsa, I'd use about a cup of chopped tomatoes and chiles (Ro-tel would be good). Cook and stir until the liquid is reduced somewhat and add the whole contents of the frying pan to the lentils in the saucepan. Reserve one half shrimp as a garnish for each serving and add the rest of them to the saucepan. Cut one very thin slice of lime for each serving. Chop or tear apart some cilantro leaves and sprinkle them on top of the soup. Taste - you may want to add salt, lime juice or pepper.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls. Top each with a slice of lime and place a piece of shrimp on top of the lime.
The tomatoes, garlic, chiles and lime really brighten up the flavor of the lentils. I'm defintely making this again.