Mexican Lentil Soup with Roasted Garlic and Chiles
from Fields of Greens by Annie Somerville
Bantam Books, 19931 c lentils
6 c cold water
1 bay leaf
2 fresh sage leaves
1 fresh oregano or marjoram sprig
1 head garlic
2 tbs light olive oil
1 pound fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded (about 1 1/2 c) or
12 oz canned tomatoes with juice
1 red onion, diced
1 tsp cumin seed, toasted and ground (see below)
1/2 tsp dried oregano, toasted
1 small carrot, diced
1 small bell pepper, diced
2 tbs Ancho Chili Puree (see below)
1/2 tsp Chipotle Puree (see below)
1 tbs chopped cilantro
1 tbs chopped fresh oregano
Note from Weekend All Things Considered: This recipe looks a bit complicated,
and it is a bit time-consuming, but it's worth it -- it's delicious.
Sort and rinse the lentils and place them in a soup pot with the water, bay
leaf, sage and oregano sprig (if you can't find fresh herbs, a pinch or two of
dried herbs will do). Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat and
cook, uncovered, at a gentle boil for 15 to 20 minutes, until the lentils are
tender but not mushy. Remove the herbs.
While the lentils are cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Rub the head of
garlic with a little oil, place it on a baking sheet, and roast it for about 30
minutes until it is soft. When the garlic has cooled, slice off the top of the
head and squeeze the garlic out of its skin. Puree with the tomatoes in a
blender or food processor and set it aside.
Heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt,
the cumin and the dried oregano; saute over medium heat until the onion is
soft, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the carrot and peppers and saute until tender,
about 5 minutes. Add the chili purees, the pureed tomatoes, and 1 teaspoon
salt, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Combine the beans and their broth with the vegetables, cover, and cook over low
heat for 30 minutes. Add salt to taste. For more spice, add more ancho or
chipotle puree to taste. Sprinkle in the fresh cilantro and oregano just before
Ancho Chili Puree
Pull dried ancho chiles apart at the stem end to remove the seeds. If you wish,
you can roast them in a 350 oven until they puff up and smell toasty, about 5
minutes. Then place the chilies in a small bowl and cover with hot water,
allowing them to soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Place them in a blender or food
processor; add a small amount of liquid and process to a smooth puree, adding
more liquid as needed.
Use canned chipotle chiles packed in adobo sauce. Puree a whole can at a time.
It will keep in the refrigerator almost indefinitely.
Toasting dried herbs and seeds brings out their unique flavors. In this recipe,
you can toast the cumin seeds and the oregano together, but in general it is a
good idea to toast them separately so that the flavors don't mingle when you
don't want them to. Place them in a dry saute pan over low heat. Stir and shake
until they release their aroma and darken slightly, just a minute or two. If
you use whole cumin seeds, you may want to grind them in a spice grinder or
with a mortar and pestle after toasting them.
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