Ah… Valentine’s Day!
I love a bouquet of beautiful flowers, maybe that actually have a scent. I love unadulterated chocolate that is not quite milk, not quite dark – let’s say about 54% cocao – and a note that comes from the heart. Maybe a bottle of really good champagne with sweet red strawberries that we can dip in said champagne and then in powdered sugar!
All of these things are nice, but most of all, I just want your time.
Hold my hand when we walk around town. And really listen to me when I talk about my hopes and dreams or even when I vent about things going on in life that I just need to share. Take me to a new place you found and order only very special sweets and let’s spend an hour or more and sit with our coffee and really look into each others’ eyes and make each other laugh.
Help me with the plants in the garden to get ready for spring. Or maybe take me shopping for that new chandelier I really want, but you are for some reason against it.
And my favorite thing. Cook dinner with me like we used to do when we were dating. Play fun music and dance with me in between chopping and stirring. And then, we light candles and sit down to devour the meal we just created, and look into each others’ souls.
Time is the most precious gift you can give someone, any day, not just Valentine’s Day. I hope you will take the time to be with someone you care about. And really pay attention to them. And maybe they will do the same. Or you could give them the gift of a healthy, heartfelt soup, like this one!
I know I am just getting this in under the wire, but you need to make this soup for someone you love! It is so easy, and yet so healthful, loving and cute as #%$@! I got the idea for this soup from The Green Kitchen Stories, a vegetarian food blog written by a husband and wife team in Stockholm who are so creative with fun, bright, beautiful vegetarian family meals since they have 3 young ones at home. It’s worth checking out!
It’s simple. Go get yee 2 beets, 2 potatoes, a head of cauliflower, some red lentils (optional) and some kind of heavy cream (I used vegan, but the real thing works too). You are good to go.
Now the Pistachio Hazelnut Dukkah on top is really the pièce de résistance – but totally optional if time is not on your side. Just make a heart with cream and add some thyme leaves (can be dried) and you are good to go. But if you have never made or had a dukkah, this is well worth making. Dukkah is a heady Egyptian nut and spice blend that is smokey and salty with a complex richness from the nuts. I promise you will love it and find many uses for it. I sometimes add it to cottage cheese with some olives and tomatoes. Other times I sprinkle it generously over hard boiled eggs that have been sliced in half and drizzled with good olive oil or even pistachio oil. I have also served it more traditionally, that is, in a small bowl with another bowl of olive oil and some great crusty bread. Dip the torn bread pieces into the olive oil and then the dukkah and yummm!
I’m sure that there are as many recipes for dukkah as there are households in Egypt, but this is the one I recently made. Since hazelnuts can be a pain to get the skins off, feel free to keep it to pistachios and slivered almonds, if you like. No judgment here! It’s all good. But if you’d like to use hazelnuts, I have a tip for removing the skins to be found in the recipe notes. Either way, this topping is Yummm! You’ll want to put it on everything!
The time to make the dukkah is about 15 minutes. You can do it while the soup veggies cook. Even making the dukkah, you can have this done in 35 minutes or so. Add a simple salad and a easy dessert, and Valentine’s Day is done! By the way, that dessert is coming tomorrow. I am so excited about this Persian Love Cake, I can’t tell you! I waited over a year to finally make it and it is so yummy and so beautiful! You can thank me later. You will get what you want…
Red Love Soup with Pistachio Hazelnut Dukkah
- 1 tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
- 1 medium red onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds whole
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds whole
- 360 grams cauliflower chopped (about 12-13 ounces or 1/2 a large head)
- 250 grams beetroots peeled and chopped (about 8-9 ounces or 2 medium)
- 200 grams white or yellow potatoes chopped (about 7-8 ounces or 2 medium)
- 1/2 cup red lentils uncooked (optional)
- 4 cups liquid (I used 2 c vegetable broth and 2 c water) use low-sodium if using broth
- 1-2 bay leaves optional
- 1-2 fresh thyme stems plus extra leaves for garnish optional
- 1 teaspoon sea salt possibly use less if using salted broth
- lemon juice to taste
- 2-3 tablespoons table or heavy cream optional
Pistachio and Hazelnut Dukkah
- 4 tablespoons pistachio nuts
- 4 tablespoons hazelnuts or almond slivers I used a combination of the two
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds or nigella seeds
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon dried mint optional
Making the Soup
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan or soup pot and cook the onion, garlic, fennel and cumin seeds until fragrant and slightly golden, about 5 mins.
- Add the cauliflower, beets, potatoes and lentils and stir-fry a couple of mins. Then add water and/or broth, bay leaves and thyme stems (if using) and cover with a lid and bring just to boil.
- Reduce the heat to keep it just at a simmer for about 20 minutes or until beets are soft and lentils are done. Remove the bay leaves and thyme stems, if used.
- Use either an immersion blender, or blend in batches in a regular blender until soup is smooth and creamy.
- Add salt and some lemon juice. Taste and adjust as needed.
- Top with a swirl of cream, pistachio hazelnut dukkah and some thyme leaves.
Making the Dukkah
- Place nuts in a dry skillet and gently roast over medium heat until slightly browned and fragrant (about 3 minutes). Transfer to either your mortar or a small food processor.
- In empty skillet, add the coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds along with the peppercorns and toast just until fragrant (about 2 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add sesame seeds and toast about 30 seconds longer. Transfer to the mortar (or food processor) with the nuts and allow to cool completely.
- Add dried mint and sea salt to the mix and crush to a coarse consistency. If you are using a food processor, please be careful to pulse gently. Don't allow the mixture to become a paste.
- Store in an airtight glass jar (labeled well!).
For the Soup Alone
For the Dukkah