Chana Dal Lentil Soup

I woke this morning and checked the old temperature gauge (aka my phone) to discover it was a balmy -6° Fahrenheit, not the windchill, the actual temperature (the windchill was a lovely -20°). In these kinds of conditions I crave something warm and hearty, simple yet filling and flavorful. This recipe was the first time I've tried chana dal. I spent some time researching exactly what chana dal is, and to be honest I'm still a little confused as to whether it is split lentils or split chickpeas or something else. Whatever the case, it is some kind of dried pulse or legume. If anyone has a good explanation of what dal is please let me know, I'd love a good definition. 

Regardless of what exactly dal is, this recipe is simple and filling. Dal cooked with tomatoes, onions and various spices. and finished with cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. It doesn't get much easier than this, and it is so healthy. If you are looking for something hearty and warming this winter that's a little different than the norm, give this recipe a try. A thick slice of hearty bread on the side to mop up all the extra juice is the only other thing you need to finish off this delicious meal. 

All this recipe really requires of you is a little time. Chop a few vegetables, throw them into a pan with the lentils and a few spices and let it all cook away for an hour or two. When it's finished cooking you just need to add a few garnishes for freshness and a little more flavor. Then plate up and dig in. There is also so much room for innovation and creativity in this dish. Add some extra veggies, some different spices, another herb, whatever you like. In the end, I don't think you will be disappointed. 

Chana Dal Lentil Soup

From 

The Spice Spoon

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp corn or any other neutral oil
  • ½ small onion sliced thinly
  • 3 small tomatoes, blanched, skins removed and diced
  • 1 tsp tomato paste (optional)
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
  • 1 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
  • ½ tsp red chilli pepper (to taste-or can be omitted altogether if you don’t like spicy soups)
  • 1½ litre of boiling water (approximately 6 cups)
  • 400g chana lentils (approximately 2 cups)
  • 2 1-cm thick slices (a little less than ½-in.) of peeled ginger
  • fresh cilantro (or your favourite herb) for garnishing
  • paprika or sumac for garnishing (optional)
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • lemon wedges

Directions

Note: If you soak the lentils in cold water overnight or for an hour prior to cooking, you can reduce the cooking time from 1½ to 1 hour.

Coat bottom of a large pot with oil and place on medium-low heat. Add sliced onions and cook for 30 minutes; checking every 10 minutes. Cook till onions wilt and turn golden.

Add chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, turmeric, salt and chilli pepper and turn flame to medium-high. Sauté for 2-3 minutes till tomatoes look jammy (i.e., their liquid has reduced).

Add boiling water, lentils and ginger. Reduce heat to low. Stir and cover pot with lid.

Simmer until lentils are tender- test a grain between your thumb and forefinger- about 1½ hour.

Remove and discard the ginger slices.

The proceeding steps are optional; they are for those who want a thicker, soup-like consistency. If you don’t want a soup, but a traditional Pakistani-style Chana Dal, once the lentils are tender, loosen them with a little bit of water till the desired consistency is achieved and taste for salt and red chilli pepper. Serve with fresh, chopped coriander on top.

When lentils have cooled, transfer 1 cup of lentils and process in a blender till smooth and creamy. Loosen with a little bit of water. Pour back into pot. (For those of you who have an immersion blender, you can blend the soup directly in the pot.) Slowly add boiling water to soup till desired consistency is achieved. Taste for salt and red chilli pepper.

Serve with fresh coriander or your favourite herb; a sprinkle of paprika or sumac (optional); a drizzle of very good olive oil and lemon wedges to add tanginess.

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

I don't know where summer went, but this weekend is definitely feeling like fall. It's so funny though, the leaves have not even started changing colors yet which is super late. So even though it feels like fall, it has yet to look like fall, a very strange combination. I'm not quite ready for the cool weather to start moving in, I want to eek out every last drop of summer that I can. Pining for summer, but dressing for fall, this soup is the perfect way to get the best of both worlds. A creamy and comforting tomato soup using fresh, perfectly ripe tomatoes from the farmers market and basil straight from the garden. It's pure summer in a bowl, yet warming enough to fight off the beginning of autumn chill that has decided to drop by, a winning combination. 

Before making this soup, I looked at a few different tomato soup recipes and then I put together my favorite parts of all of them, using what I had on hand. Tomato soup is so easy to make, and it is so delicious. If you've never had homemade tomato soup, and have only ever suffered through a bowl from a can, you don't know what you're missing. I used to think I didn't like tomato soup. Then I discovered that I just don't like canned tomato soup. Homemade is infinitesimally better, it isn't even comparable to the stuff out of a can. And while I used fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes make a pretty good soup too, so in the middle of winter you can still whip up a batch. So if you've never tried making your own tomato soup, I urge to to give it a try, it is so easy and so worth it. 

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

From Delectably Mine

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 tablespoon sour cream to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • pinch sugar
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil, plus more to garnish

Directions

Cut tomatoes in half or in quarters and place on a baking sheet lined with foil. Add the onion and garlic cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes at 450 degrees. 

Once vegetables are roasted, transfer to a small sauce pot and add the stock. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. Return pot to heat and add the salt, sour cream, lemon juice, sugar, red pepper flakes and basil. Let soup simmer for 15-20 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Serve, garnishing with more basil and parmesan cheese, or more sour cream.