(c) 2018, The Washington Post, Joe Yonan
After a week that involved three nights of after-work prep for Thanksgiving, and then the big day itself, what did I want? Something so easy it would border on effortless.
That's what I got from a red-lentil soup by Brandi Doming, author of "The Vegan 8" (Oxmoor House, 2018). There's very little knife work, with most of the flavour coming from a few herbs and spices, plus a good amount of jarred red salsa. The latter is a masterstroke of semi-homemade-ness, especially when you use a decent-quality product, of course. I think about that old cooking-with-wine advice: Don't cook with anything you wouldn't want to drink.
Beyond that, the recipe demonstrates again the magic of red lentils, which, besides offering their earthy flavour and nutritional benefits, break down and thicken the soup with no pureeing necessary. Diced red bell pepper and corn, along with garnishes of avocado and cilantro, add texture and colour.
It's a nice break from the richness of the Thanksgiving meal (and leftovers) - and all the work that went into preparing it.
Red Lentil Salsa Soup
4 to 6 servings (makes 6 cups)
Adapted from "The Vegan 8: 100 Simple, Delicious Recipes Made with 8 Ingredients or Less," by Brandi Doming (Oxmoor House, 2018).
1 1/4 cups dried red lentils, rinsed
4 cups water
1/2 packed cup diced red bell pepper (from 1/2 large pepper, seeded)
1 1/4 cups smooth/pureed red salsa (with your preferred heat level)
1 tablespoon chilli powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (pimenton; sweet or hot)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup frozen sweet corn
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for garnish
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish
The flesh of 1 ripe avocado, sliced
Combine the lentils, water, bell pepper, salsa, chilli powder, oregano, smoked paprika and black pepper in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover and cook until the lentils are barely tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
Stir in the corn; cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Taste and add salt, as needed. (Depending on the salsa you used, you might not need salt.) Stir in the lime juice and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro.
Divide among individual bowls and top with sliced avocado and cilantro. Serve hot, with lime wedges.
Nutrition: Per serving (based on 6): 220 calories, 12 g protein, 34 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 220 mg sodium, 9 g dietary fibre, 4 g sugar
Featured Image: Lazy Red Lentil Salsa Soup. Photo by Goran Kosanovic.