Monday, January 11, 2016

Red Lentil Soup with Roasted Red Jalapeño Garni

     A Healthy Refined Red Lentil Soup For Any Season!
     Throughout history, wealthy members of society have sought food that improves health in order to extend their lifespan.  This certainly goes on in modern times.  Well to do folks often fall prey to any miracle dietary health food trend that is publicized by the media.  The fat free diet, zero carbohydrate diet and gluten free diet are prime examples of health trends that target gullible consumers.  After being exposed to endless media sales pitches, unwary consumers sometimes self diagnose like a hypochondriac.  The next the you know, the old adage of "there is a sucker born every minute" comes into play. 
     Instead of eagerly participating in the latest and greatest miracle dietary health trends that are usually just marketing schemes, it is better to rely on old traditional healthy food items that are well proven.  Does one see beans advertised by the modern media as a miracle cure?  No, but beans actually offer a list of health benefits that are a mile long.  
     Historically, the reason that beans are not marketed to the societal elite is because beans are frowned upon as being peasant food.  This bean ideology prevails in fine dining restaurants, therefore relatively few traditional fine dining chefs offer beans or bean soups on a menu.  
     Modern fine dining chefs that are aware of time tested healthy food items do market menu items that feature beans, because this pleases health oriented customers.  Usually the menu items that feature beans have a sentimental theme or a rustic payson theme.  Soup is a good medium for making refined looking bean offering, because bean soup can be prepared as a puree.  As one can see in the photos above, a pureed Red Lentil Soup does have an elegant look.     
     There are many varieties of Lentil Beans.  Most are identified by their color.  Red Lentils are popular in African, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine.  Red Lentils take very little time to cook and they provide many beneficial nutrients, like fibrous carbohydrates, calcium and complex proteins.  Red Lentils provide strong muscles, strong bones, healthy teeth, long lasting energy and a healthier digestive tract.  
     Not only are Red Lentils healthy, they also taste good!  Red Lentils have a very mild flavor that tastes interesting in braised recipes and soups.    

     Red Lentil Soup:
     This recipe yields about 2 3/4 cups.  (Enough for 1 large bowl of soup.)  
     I made this soup with no garlic.  Garlic can easily overpower the unique delicate flavor of Red Lentils.  
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.  (Use olive oil if you are a strict vegetarian!)
     Add 2 tablespoons of small chopped peeled celery.
     Add 1 tablespoon of small chopped carrot.
     Add 1 tablespoon of small chopped onion.
     Sauté till the mirepoix vegetables start to become tender,
     Step 2:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of small chopped roasted red bell pepper.
     Sauté for 1 minute.
     Step 3:  Add 3 cups of vegetable stock.
     Add 1/2 cup of red lentils.  (masoor dahl)
     Add 1 bay leaf.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1 pinch of turmeric.
     Add 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of ground celery seed.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 4:  Bring the soup to a boil over medium high heat.
     Step 5:   Reduce the temperature to medium low heat. 
     Gently simmer the soup till the lentils and vegetables are very tender.  
     *Allow the soup to reduce to about 3 cups in volume.  Only add water if necessary.
     Step 6:  Remove the soup from the heat.
     Remove the bay leaf.
     Use an electric blending wand, food processor or blender to finely puree the soup.   
     Step 7:  Pour the soup through a fine mesh strainer into a sauce pot.
     Place the sauce pot over low heat and reheat the soup. 
     Check the consistency.  The soup should have a medium thin consistency that can coat a spoon. 
     *Simmer and reduce if the soup is too thin or add water if the soup is too thick.  The finished volume should be about 2 3/4 cups.
     Keep the Red Lentil Soup warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Roasted Red Jalapeño Pepper Garnish:
     Step 1:  Lightly brush 1 red jalapeño pepper with vegetable oil.
     Place the pepper on a roasting pan.
     Roast the red jalapeño in a 350ºF oven, till the skin on the pepper becomes loose and lightly caramelized.
     Step 2:  Allow the roasted red jalapeño to cool.
     Remove the loose pepper skin and the stem.
     Split the roasted red jalapeño in half and remove the pulp and seeds.
     Step 3:  Julienned slice the roasted red jalapeño and set it aside.  (Julienne is 1/8" x 1/8" x 2 1/2" to 3".)

     Red Lentil Soup with Roasted Red Jalapeño Garni:
     Pour the red lentil soup into a shallow soup bowl.
     Gently place about 1/2 tablespoon of the julienne sliced roasted red jalapeño on the center of the soup, so they float.
     Float 3 small Italian Parsley leaves or cilantro leaves on the surface of the soup around the roasted red jalapeño garnish.

     This is a tasty refined Red Lentil Soup looks good too!  

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