Thursday, July 05, 2007

Cumin-Sausage Lentil Soup

Combine in large pot, dutch oven or slow-cooker (crock pot):

2 cups uncooked dried lentils, rinsed well
1 cup uncooked brown rice, rinsed well
8 cups water
1/2 to 1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 large carrots, sliced
1/4 teaspoon cumin

Stir ingredients together. (Note: When cooking dried beans, do not add salt, sugar, or an acid at the beginning of cooking, as these can keep them from getting tender.)

If cooking in slow-cooker, put on the lid and turn on the crockpot. I put this soup together in the afternoon and cooked it on low for 2-3 hours and then on high for a couple more hours, and it was getting quite soft and mushy by the time we ate it. If you are making it in the morning, I would think cooking on low all day should be fine.

If cooking on the stovetop, bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Simmer about 1 hour.

In the last few minutes of cooking (or during the last 1/2 to 1 hour, if using a crockpot), add:

2 tsp salt
1/2 to 1 lb. cooked sausage, optional (I buy a safe uncured sausage made with just meat and fresh herbs at a local butcher shop [Butcher Boys' ground Italian or Breakfast sausage], or there are a few safe brands of chicken sausage available commercially)
1/8 to 1/4 tsp powdered ginger (optional)
1/8 tsp more cumin (optional--leave out for a milder flavor)
2-4 tablespoons snipped fresh chives (optional--you can stir this in just before serving or use it as a garnish on top of soup after dishing into bowls if desired)

When the lentils and rice are tender and all ingredients are heated thoroughly, the soup is done. The lentils and rice make a complete protein, so the sausage is completely optional--it's added more for flavor. You can leave out the meat for a vegan dish.

This soup is wonderful served with a salad of mixed greens (I used red and green leaf lettuce and baby spinach)

Other flavors that might be good in this soup would be a sprinking of black pepper, some basil and coriander or anise seed, or a touch of honey.

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