Whenever Spouse is gone, I like to try a new recipe I could never make when he's home. Although we like many of the same foods, he can't stand several of my favorites -- notably fish and mushrooms. He barely tolerates lentils, and I've made Turkish Lentil Soup (seriously, I could eat that soup every day of my life!) to the point where he has said, "Let's not have that for awhile." :) So with Spouse gone for a few days, it seemed like the perfect time to try Corn and Red Lentil Soup, which is packed with red lentils, eggplant, and spinach -- three of his least favorite ingredients!
This healthful recipe came from Clean Eating magazine. I know this is hard to read, so I retyped the recipe below with modifications.
I followed the recipe fairly closely, but I did use what Bailey calls "cheater garlic" because it is so much easier than peeling and chopping fresh. Although I'm sure foodies would disagree, I think it tastes just fine.
The recipe also calls for homemade croutons with goat cheese. Call me weird, but I'm sort of afraid of goat cheese. I love goats, but the idea of cheese from a goat just gives me the willies. So I decided to use pre-made croutons (these particular croutons are really yummy) with plain yogurt instead of goat cheese. Yogurt adds a very fitting Middle Eastern touch to any type of lentil dish.
You can tell that we never have eggplant around here because poor Lily was scared of it...she actually WINCED at the smell! Sheesh, Lily! Don't be scared of a vegetable!
When I started chopping it up, she ran away! hehehe
I started the soup on the stove (basically to get the temperature up), then transferred it to the crock pot so it could simmer all afternoon.
At this point, Lily returned to the kitchen and waited patiently for a taste of something (other than eggplant). I can haz korns?
The spinach only takes a little time to wilt, so it should be added at the last minute. Again, I took the easy way out and bought baby spinach in a bag. It's so small that it didn't need to be chopped. The stems just disappear as the spinach wilts.
Just throw it in and stir.
In about a minute, you can see the leaves start to wilt.
And here's what the soup looks like when it's done! My version didn't look quite like the photo in the magazine (looks like they added a LOT more corn than indicated!) but it was delicious, nutritious, and very filling. Sorry, Spouse, but when will you be leaving again? :)
Corn and Red Lentil Soup
WITHOUT Goat Cheese Croutons :)
Adapted (BY ME!) from Clean Eating magazine (see original recipe above)
1.5 t olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced -- I used "cheater garlic"
3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth - I used 4 cups broth + 1 cup water
2 cups water
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
4 cups cubed eggplant (1/2" cubes)
8 oz frozen yellow corn kernels or 1.5 cups fresh kernels
3 cups fresh spinach, chopped -- or baby spinach!
1/4 teaspoon sea salt and ground black pepper
In a large pot, heat oil on medium-low. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, stirring often, about 1-2 minutes. Add broth and water. Stir in lentils then cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 5 minutes. Stir in eggplant and corn and cook uncovered for 5 more minutes, until eggplant and lentils are tender. (At this point, I transferred the soup to a crock pot so it could simmer for the afternoon.*) Stir in spinach and cook uncovered until wilted, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with pre-made croutons and plain yogurt.
* Note: Putting this soup into the crock pot for six hours no doubt made it a little mushier than it would be if you cooked it on the stove. I thought it was just fine but if you'd like a little more texture and still want to use the crock pot after starting it on the stove, I'd limit the crock pot time.