Friday, December 7, 2007

Lentil Soup with a Curry Crema, Lentil Crackers and Fried Carrots

This is such a tasty soup that it is well worth the effort and the time you put into it. Actually it doesn't take that much time to prepare it, cooking takes about 1 hour.

There are side dishes for this recipe which are listed below. I've taken these recipes from Emeril. Of course you don't have to prepare those too. But if you have company over, definitely try them. Your guests will thank you for it:) I have tried to make the lentil crackers without the pasta roller since I don't have it, and they have turned out to be ok. For me, it isn't worth the effort. But don't skip the carrots, it really works with this soup.

There isn't much I could change about this recipe, it was already great. The only thing you can change might be to use low-fat sour cream and maybe skip the bacon if you want to make it healthier. And use low sodium chicken broth, otherwise the soup might come out too salty.


3 strips bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, minced (1 cup)
3 carrots, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (1/2 cup)
1 rib celery, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
4 cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound dried lentils
2 quarts chicken stock
1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves
Lentil crackers, recipe follows
Parsley Oil, recipe follows
Fried Carrots, recipe follows

In a large saucepan cook the bacon over medium heat until it has rendered most of its fat, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook until vegetables are softened, about 4 to 6 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, chopped ginger, salt and cayenne pepper and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the lentils and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Use a spoon to skim any foam from the top of the soup, cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are very tender, about 30 to 35 minutes.

While the soup is cooking, make the Curry Crema by combining the creme fraiche and the curry powder in a small bowl and set aside.

When the lentils are very tender, use a slotted spoon to remove approximately 1/2 cup of the lentils for the crackers and set aside to cool. Puree the soup using a hand-held immersion blender until smooth. (Alternately, puree the soup in batches in a blender after it has cooled slightly.) Add water if necessary to achieve the desired consistency. Add the lime juice and parsley, stir to combine, and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Remove 1/4 cup of the pureed soup and set aside to use for the lentil crackers. Keep the soup warm while you make the lentil crackers.

Make the lentil crackers.

Serve garnished with a rounded tablespoon of Curry Crema, drizzle with Parsley Oil, and Fried Carrots. Serve the lentil crackers on the side.

Lentil Crackers:
1/2 cup cooked lentils reserved from Lentil Soup recipe
1/4 cup lentil soup
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

Place the reserved lentils and reserved lentil soup in a food processor and process to a chunky puree. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add 1/2 cup of the flour. Mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until a dough is formed. While continuing to mix, add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough is moist and malleable but not at all sticky. The dough should resemble clay. Roll the dough into a disk shape, cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the dough from the freezer and cut the dough into 6 equal portions. Using your hands, flatten each portion of dough to a thickness of 1/4-inch and lightly coat each portion with flour. Pass each portion of the dough through a pasta roller set on the #2 setting. Change the pasta roller setting to #4 and pass each portion of dough through the pasta roller. You should now have very thin long strips of dough, approximately 14 to 16 inches long and about 2 1/2 to 3 inches wide. Place each strip of rolled out dough (diagonally) onto a parchment lined baking sheet and, using a pastry brush, brush the strips lightly with some of the extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle the strips with some of the kosher salt. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, turning the sheet pan after 10 minutes, until the crackers are dry and brittle.

Yield: 6 (14 to 16-inch long) lentil crackers, break into desired lengths

*Note: These crackers will lose their crispiness quickly. If you do not need or want to make this many crackers at once, this dough freezes exceptionally well.

Parsley Oil:
1 bunch parsley, leaves picked and washed
3 cloves garlic
1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil
2 limes, juiced
Salt Freshly ground black pepper

In a food processor, add parsley, garlic, olive oil, and lime juice and puree until smooth. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Fried Carrots:
1/2 pound carrots, peeled
1/2 cup flour
Salt Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat a fryer to 350 degrees F. Cut the carrots into long, thin strands on a turning slicer. Alternately, cut the carrots into a julienne on a mandoline. In a large bowl, toss the carrots with flour, salt and pepper, just to coat the carrots with flour. Shake the carrots, to remove excess flour. Place in the fryer and cook until golden brown and crispy, about 2 minutes. Remove from the oil, place on a paper towel-lined plate, and season, to taste, with salt.

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