March is here, and spring is in the air! I’ve been spending some time out in my yard, planting and prepping for spring. So far, I put in a tomato plant, serrano, jalapeno chilies and added marjoram to my still healthy oregano and thyme. Basil will be coming soon, as will another tomato plant, habanero and a Thai chili plant. I’ve tried so many other things here in the desert in the past but between critters and the heat, they were not too successful, so now I do tomato, hot peppers and herbs. In the fall/winter I may do lettuce, spinach, kale and snow peas. But that’s pretty much it for my situation. I do most of my planting in containers since I don’t have protected (from critters) space to do a real garden. Tell me what you are planting right now. I’d love to hear about your gardening adventures!
We recently had a couple of cloudy, rainy days, which is rare for us here in the desert and it just made me want to make yet another soup or stew. And… My March mini-resolution was to eat more soups and salads. I have to say, this one has been easy for me. I’ve forced myself to make the salads (I’ve always hated making salads – but I love to eat them!), but the soups are easy-peasy! Also, with all of the cancellations of plans right now due to the Coronavirus, cooking at home is more important than ever. I was wanting something with warm, bold, healing spices and Indian spices came to mind. I put this together with what I had in the pantry and fridge, but you can change out the vegetables for whatever you have around. I would have added green beans for sure, if I had them, and potatoes if I was allowing myself. You could also substitute brown lentils for the red lentils, but be aware it will need a bit more cooking time.
If you made my preserved lemons from a previous post, here’s a first recipe you can use them in. More to come!
Once everything is prepped, this stew takes just 30 minutes tops, but prep time might be around 20 minutes. Still, you can have an amazingly flavorful stew on the table in less than an hour, most of which is hands off.
So these are the aromatics I started the soup with.
Starting in the center and moving clockwise, we have onion, hot chilies, grated turmeric, garlic and ginger. I grate my garlic, ginger and turmeric root using a large microplane, but you can use a box grater, if you like, or just mince them finely. Once you put these over the heat in some hot oil, your house will smell wonderful! Prep these aromatics first and also chop veggies so you are ready to go. Things can move fast if you have everything ready.
Then you add your ground spices and stir them into the hot oil to release their magic. From there, it’s just tossing in lentils, some salt, the water and broth, and your vegetables. Dinner will be ready in less than 30 minutes from now. Take care of what you need to do and then serve it up! “This is really tasty”, is the comment I got from family. I hope you think so, too. Remember to comment below or tag me on Instagram or Facebook and let me know if you make this soup.
Indian-spiced White Bean and Lentil Soup
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 onion chopped, divided
- 2 teaspoons ginger grated
- 3 cloves garlic grated or minced
- 1 green chili minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh turmeric root grated, optional
Ground spice mixture
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric can use less if using fresh turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- 2 carrots chopped
- 3 1/2 cups cauliflower chopped
- 1 small sweet potato peeled and chopped
- 1/2 cup dry red lentils may substitute green/brown lentils
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups water
- 4 cups vegetable broth low sodium
- 2 cups cooked white beans or use 1 can, rinsed and drained
- 1 14.5 ounce can tomatoes diced - or 2-3 Roma tomatoes
- 1.5 cups green peas I used frozen
- 1/3 cup preserved lemon diced small, optional
- 4 ounces fresh greens spinach, kale, chard
- 4 sprigs cilantro for garnish
- It's important to have your ingredients prepped and ready to go. Grate your ginger, garlic and turmeric (if using) and chop onion and chili. Chop your vegetables (carrots, cauliflower and sweet potato) and have your white beans ready.
- Heat half of the 1/4 cup olive oil in your soup pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add cumin and fennel seeds and stir for 10 seconds.
- Then add ½ of the onion plus the ginger, garlic and chili and stir-fry for 1 minute.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low, add the rest of the olive oil and stir in the ground spices. Cook for another 30-60 seconds, stirring continually.
- Add lentils and salt and stir for another 30 seconds.
- Add water and broth and bring to a low boil. Add the other half onion, carrots, cauliflower and sweet potato and bring to a boil. Remember, if you are using green/brown lentils, you should let them cook about 10 minutes before adding your vegetables. Turn down and simmer about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally so nothing sticks to the bottom.
- Add green peas and preserved lemons, if using. Stir and let cook a minute or so. Then add greens and stir well until greens are wilted. Serve in large bowls garnished with cilantro, if desired. Some Roti or Naan - if you are doing the carb thing- is great to mop up the flavorful juices!