October 10, 2008

Red Lentil & Pumpkin Soup

It's been a rough week.

I have one very challenging class (lots of absences, in-school suspensions, failing grades, apathy), and I gave them a good talking to on Wednesday. I hope it took. I am just so frustrated at working my ass off to plan fun and interesting activities for them, then having very few people actually finish the assignments. While they are not bad kids, for the most part, there are a few students who constantly have their heads down, ignore what I say in class, blatantly refuse to participate and complete work, or interrupt with annoying comments.

And then, there was some drama today at the school that required police involvement and a change in policies "until further notice."

Ahhh...the joys of teaching high school.

I miss my college job.

Anyway, I needed something soothing when I got home this evening. This lentil & pumpkin soup topped with spicy caramelized onions, from Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries, did the trick. (This is one of the recipes I am making at my cooking class on Sunday.)

1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
ginger, a walnut-sized knob
1 cup + 2 tbsp red lentils
1 1/4 tsp turmeric
1 1/4 tsp chili powder
2 cups pumpkin
1 small bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped

For the onion topping:
2 medium onions, cut into thin rings
2 tbsp oil
2 small hot chili peppers, halved, seeded and chopped finely (or to taste)
2 cloves garlic
  • Peel the onion and chop it roughly. Peel and crush the garlic and put it with the onion into a medium-sized, heavy-based saucepan. Peel the ginger, cut it into thin shred and stir that in too. Add the lentils and pour in 6 cups of water (You can use chicken or veggie stock instead). Bring to the boil. then turn the heat down to an enthusiastic simmer. Stir in the ground turmeric and chili powder, season and leave to simmer, covered, for 2o minutes.
  • While the soup is cooking, peel the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and pulp, & chop the flesh into fat chunks. Add to the soup with 10 minutes left in the cooking time. The pumpkin should be easily pierced with a fork.
  • To make the onion topping, peel the onions and cut them into fine rings. Cook them in the oil in a shallow pan until they start to color. Cut the chilies in half, scrape out the seeds and slice the flesh finely (I just used 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes). Peel and finely slice the garlic and add it with the peppers to the onions. Continue cooking until the onions are a deep golden brown. Set aside.
  • Remove the lid from the lentils and turn up the heat, boiling hard for five minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and puree the soup in the blender (for safety, a little at a time) until smooth (I used a stick blender in the pot). Pour the soup back into the pot and stir in the roughly chopped coriander and check the seasoning. Nigel finds this soup "likes a more generous than usual amount of salt."
  • Serve in deep bowls with a spoonful of the spiced onions on top. (Makes 4 good-sized bowls.)
The onions really are a MUST with this soup; they add a spicy/sweet depth of flavor. You could also roast the pumpkin seeds with a little olive and salt (at 350 for 15-20 minutes) and sprinkle them on top of the soup.


Lisa (Show Me Vegan) said...

sounds delicious. I guess I should say goodbye to summer and start cooking with Fall ingredients like pumpkin too!

Shelby said...

oh yum. sounds really delicious and I love the caramelized onions!

Anonymous said...

I just made this and it was absolutely delicious. Needs a bit of salt though and you don't mention what to do with the coriander so I chopped it and threw it in at the end.

Anonymous said...

Oops. Read it properly. I did what I should have with the coriander and it did mention the salt right at the end. Sorry. Fantastic recipe!