Red Lentil-Pumpkin Soup

Red Lentil Pumpkin Soup

I am not really a huge kitchen gadget person – believe me, I have a lot of gadgets in my kitchen, but I am shocked to look through my drawers at what I use, and what just sits there collecting dust.  Since we are in the gift giving season, I have decided to post my all-time favorite kitchen gadgets.  Please note, I have not been paid what-so-ever to promote any of these items – these are all mine, and I am giving you my honest feedback.  I would give you a top 10 list, except that I cam really only think of my top 5 – would you believe that I really don’t have more than 5, with all the cooking I do? I think that says a lot right there – I use the same things over and over…these are in no particular order.

  1. Giant Spatula – I use this for everything: cakes, roasts, pommes Anna – anything I need to move from one place to another.
  2. Ice Cream Scoops – mostly I use these to bake with, and I have multiple sizes: cookie dough and cupcakes.
  3. Silicone Pastry Brush – fabulous because you can stick it in the dishwasher and it comes out perfectly clean!
  4. 1/4-Cup Measuring Cup – great for baking, and for making cocktails!
  5. Immersion Blender – what an amazing thing this is – it saves tons of dishwashing time.

Speaking of immersion blenders – I really don’t know what I would do without mine.  Before I had one, this soup would have been a pain in the neck.  I hate putting hot liquids into the blender, it always makes me nervous.  This soup was one of the easiest dinners I have made in a long time – and the best part of all was how few dishes I had to wash.  Oh, the other bonus is that this soup is vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free (as long as you skip the yogurt garnish) – and for my husband these days – that is a really good thing.  The soup was delicious, and perfect for this time of year.  You even have enough pumpkin left over to make some pumpkin bread.

So – with all the craziness of the season, do yourself a favor – get yourself an immersion blender, make this soup for dinner – and then order the rest of the gifts above for your friends and family.   Done, done, and done.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 1/2 cups organic vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 cup dried small red lentils
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt (optional)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seed kernels, toasted (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Preparation

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Stir in 3 cups broth, lentils, and next 4 ingredients (through red pepper); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until lentils are tender.

Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.  If you don’t have one, place the lentil mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Return lentil mixture to pan over medium heat. Add remaining 1/2 cup broth, 1 cup water, and pumpkin to pan; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in ginger and lemon juice.

Ladle 1 1/2 cups soup into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with about 2 teaspoons yogurt, 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds, and 1 tablespoon cilantro if using.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Red Lentil-Pumpkin Soup

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Chickpea Bajine

I love when I find an ingredient that I haven’t cooked before – it doesn’t happen all that often, so I get very excited.  My husband had been talking about quinoa a lot lately – he recently had it at a restaurant and told me how delicious it was.  I had also eaten it at restaurants before, but oddly enough, had never made it at home.

I was at Trader Joes the other week, and noticed a box of quinoa on the shelf – even though I had no idea what I was going to do with it, I decided it was time to try it out.  Luckily on the way home I remembered this recipe I saw in Cooking Light  that definitely looked intriguing.  Basically, anything with fennel in it looks intriguing to me…so I found the recipe, and gave it a try.  We loved it – the quinoa was nice and nutty, and the chickpeas added a different texture to the grainy quinoa – and then came the fennel with the fresh lemon juice – what a wonderful combination.  Oh – and did I happen to mention how ridiculously healthy this dish is?  Good thing I had some Sour Cream Pound Cake with Lavender Peaches left to balance out the meal…

Ingredients

Quinoa:

  • 2  teaspoons  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 1  cup  organic vegetable broth
  • 1  cup  water
  • 1  cup  uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt

Chickpea mixture:

  • 2  teaspoons  extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2  cups  thinly sliced leek (about 1 large)
  • 4  garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 1/2  cups  sliced fennel bulb (about 1 large)
  • 1 3/4  cups  (1/4-inch-thick) slices carrot (about 3/4 pound)
  • 1/2  teaspoon  fennel seeds
  • 1/2  cup  white wine
  • 1  cup  organic vegetable broth
  • 4  teaspoons  chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 1  (14 1/2-ounce) can no-salt-added chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  (5-ounce) package baby spinach

Preparation

To prepare quinoa, heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 garlic clove to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add 1 cup broth and next 4 ingredients (through 1/4 teaspoon salt); cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender.

To prepare chickpea mixture, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add leek and 4 garlic cloves to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil, fennel bulb, carrot, and fennel seeds; sauté 10 minutes or until vegetables are golden. Add wine; cook 3 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Stir in 1 cup broth, 2 teaspoons thyme, and chickpeas; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat; stir in juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and spinach.

Place about 2/3 cup quinoa in each of 4 bowls; top each serving with about 1 1/2 cups chickpea mixture. Sprinkle each serving with 1/2 teaspoon thyme.

Serves 4-6

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: ChickPea Bajine

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