Tuesday, January 5, 2010

curried lentil gloop

I can has basil leaf?

The recipe

Curried lentil soup
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/4 teaspoons curry powder
7 cups water
3/4 cup lentils
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, un-drained

  1. Sauté onions until soft. Add curry, sauté 1 minute. Add water and lentils; bring to a boil. Cover; reduce heat. Simmer 40 minutes or until lentils are tender.
  2. Place 4 cups lentil mixture in a blender; process until smooth. Return mixture to pan. Add chopped basil, vinegar, salt, sugar and tomatoes; cook until thoroughly heated. Garnish with basil, if desired.
The process

After a particularly difficult zumba class, my confidence is low. I’m beginning to question my ability to build this soup, especially because, when I think about it, I’m not 100 percent sure I know what a lentil is. When I locate them at Sunfresh, I realize they are basically tiny peas. Really, pea soup? But I have committed to making it, so I toss the damn lentils in my basket.

At home I turn on Regina Spektor and drink a glass of cheap cabernet sauvignon, and I feel slightly restored. I am ready to cook.

Chopping the onion, as usual, makes my entire face drip and burn, and I am relieved to get it cooking in the frying pan. The sautéed onion mixed with curry powder smells sweetly dirty and spicy, like what you’d get if you parked a hot dog cart inside a perfume shop in the Shire. And then had sex on it.

While preparing to cook the lentils, I almost immediately suspect “7 cups of water” is a type-o, especially since it wants me to put the “lentil mixture” in the blender; I imagine seven cups of boiling hot lentils and curried onions will destroy the nearly ten-year-old blender I purchased on sale at Wal-Mart when I wanted to make margaritas one night. I text my boyfriend and tell him to come over later than planned so he won’t see me wading in the lentil lake after my blender explodes.

I switch my cooking music from Spektor to Chopin. Feeling immediately smarter, I improvise and add only five cups of water. I also decide to drain the mixture before blending. I am a genius.

While the lentils simmer, I seek the opinions of my colleagues. When presented with a basil leaf, Bubba Kinsey turns up his nose and stalks away. Phoenix, however, tries to snatch it out of my hand. I assume she's jealous because I offered it to Bubba first, but then SHE FUCKING EATS IT. I am reminded of when she stole my fresh cayenne peppers over the summer (and possibly ate them; several are still at large). She is a strange creature, but I’m glad she approves.

After draining the lentils and onions, I pour them in the blender and choose the “blend” option, pausing briefly to consider whether “puree” would work better but outright rejecting “liquefy” and “frappe.” The resulting mixture is green and resembles baby vomit.

Instead of dwelling on its appearance, I dump the green goo back in the pot and add the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, salt, sugar and basil. It begins to take on a more soup-like appearance, and I suspect it might be edible. I lean over to inspect it more closely, and a bubble of boiling hot sludge explodes IN MY EYE. Fuck, it burns.

I turn down the heat and plunge a spoon into the mess. Surprisingly it is kind of good.

Still, it’s not fucking spicy enough for me, so I brazenly add a hefty squirt of Sriracha sauce, as well as another sprinkle of curry and a pinch of sugar.

The verdict

The end result is almost too thick to be called soup; it’s more like something you would scoop up with naan at an Indian restaurant. Still, it's rather savory and filling – my boyfriend calls it “hearty” – even though it is allegedly low-fat, and neither the curry nor the spice is overwhelming. It could have used a bit more water, and next time I would sweeten it with honey instead of sugar, but my boyfriend totally went back for seconds.

The score

This time, I made the food; the food did not make me (as in pissed off, dejected, nauseous, etc.).
Angela: 1
Food: 0

Next up:
Spicy mung bean soup

1 comment:

Danny T. said...

Mmmmmm Sriracha. I am by no means a world-class chef (hell, I'm barely a city-class chef), by I will fight to the death my contention that hot sauce is its own goddamned food group, and is part of a daily balanced diet.

P.S. I'm not impressed by lentils, either. Silly lower-case p(ea)s.