Welcome 2014! Hope everyone had fun ringing in the new year. I was happy to have a quiet night at home and thankfully my little guy was asleep in his crib at midnight for once.
Like soba noodles, lentils are another traditional New Year’s food. In Brazil they are eaten to represent the hope for prosperity in the new year, just like black eyed peas are eaten for the same reason in parts of the USA.
In addition, January is national soup month. Soups are nice and filling and often lower in calories for those people eating light after holiday decadence. Also they’re really comforting on a cold winter day. We tend to eat a lot of soup this time of year.
Despite my quiet New Year’s Eve, I was still pretty tired on New Year’s Day (thanks to a toddler and a full time job and actually making it until midnight without falling asleep) and wanted to spend a relaxing family day mostly outside of the kitchen. A slow cooker soup allowed that to happen!
Prior to putting everything in the slow cooker, I microwaved chopped onions, grated ginger, curry powder, some vegetable oil, and tomato paste for 5 minutes, stirring intermittently. This let the onions soften and the flavors come together.
After that, I added the onion mixture to the slow cooker along with 8 cups of chicken broth (could definitely use vegetable broth if you prefer), chopped carrots, and a cup of lentils. I cooked the soup on low for about 6 hours which allowed me plenty of time to take my son to the playground to work up an appetite for dinner and bake some bread. By then the lentils were tender. Before serving I added chopped tomatoes, more ginger, and fresh cilantro to the soup and seasoned with some freshly ground black pepper.
The taste was fantastic! The house smelled amazing from the start when microwaving the onions. It wasn’t spicy but the merger of onions, ginger, and curry was delicious. Curry powder is a combination of multiple ground spices including cumin, cardamom, and cinnamon. For this recipe I used a homemade curry powder that I had made a batch of last month, but whatever type of curry powder you enjoy and have on hand will work great. My husband requested to have this soup again and my 15 month old wanted more and more of it (though he’s still working on using a spoon so he wore quite a bit too) so I’m calling it a success. Here’s to a year of prosperity and longevity!
Curried Lentil Soup (adapted with minimal modifications from Slow Cooker Revolution volume 2)
Yield: serves 6
2 cups chopped onions (2 small/medium onions)
2 tablespoons grated ginger, divided
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 teaspoons curry powder
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
1 cup lentils, rinsed
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a microwave safe bowl, place the onions, 1 tablespoon of ginger, tomato paste, oil, and curry powder. Microwave for 5 minutes, stirring intermittently, until the onions are softened.
2. Transfer the onion mixture to the slow cooker, along with the broth, carrots, and lentils. Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, or on high for 4 to 5 hours.
3. Once the lentils are tender, after about 6 hours on low, add the tomatoes and 1 tablespoon of ginger and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro, as well as salt and pepper to taste.
Per serving: 200 calories, 5 grams of fat (calculated from myfitnesspal.com; all nutrition information is approximate)