This is a North African soup that is traditionally served as part of the evening meal during the month of Ramadan. I had a friend in high school who was from Algeria - she introduced me to all the wonderful flavours of North African/Moroccan cuisine; it is so fantastic!
Anyway, this soup is really healthy and full of those great flavours! It's a good source of protein and a decent source of dietary fiber. Plus, it's completely cholesterol-free!
1/2 cup onion, chopped (I used red onions)
2 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tbsp. grated fresh ginger root
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup peeled, diced carrots
1/4 cup diced celery
1/2 cup undrained canned tomatoes, chopped (even if you get the diced tomatoes, chop them up a bit so you don't have massive tomato chunks - learn from my mistakes ;)
3/4 cup diced potatoes *see note
Pinch of saffron
1/2 cup lentils *see note
1/2 cup drained cooked chickpeas
1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tbsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1) My potatoes really never cooked which was a disappointment (and I diced them pretty small!) I think next time, I'll boil them a little before adding them to the soup - hopefully that will help! I'll just have to be careful not to boil them for so long that they become too mushy. Nothing like ashy soup due to mushy potatoes.
2) I foresaw this problem with the lentils and was able to prevent undercooked lentils (hey, at least I got that right!) You can soak the lentils in hot water for 10-15 minutes prior to adding them. This helps start the cooking process so you won't have hard lentils in your soup! Use a 2:1 ratio of lentils to boiling water for soaking. Drain before adding to the soup. (I let my lentils sit for quite a bit longer than 10 minutes - I just started the soaking process while I was still chopping veggies and let them soak until I added them. Probably about 25-30 minutes total).
1. In a covered soup pot, simmer the onions in 1/2 cup vegetable broth for 10 minutes. Combine the cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, and cayenne in a small bowl. Add 2 tbsp. of the hot broth to form a paste. Stir this paste back into the pot along with the carrots, celery, and remaining stock. Bring to a boil then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes and potatoes and continue to cook, covered, for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Crumble in the saffron. Stir in the lentils, chickpeas, cilantro, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Cook about 5 minutes until lentils are cooked and everything is heated through.
From the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favourites Cookbook.