How about a nice bowl of cheery orange-colored soup to warm your tummy on a cold winter night? I only recently began to appreciate soup, having been too lazy to properly appreciate it in the past — soup isn’t often stick-to-your-ribs fare and I’m pretty side-dish impaired, as far as getting out bread or making a salad to go with the soup.
There are two kinds of soups that tickle my fancy. If they meet one of these two criteria and are vegetarian, I’ll likely try them, no matter what the ingredients. One is the all-day kind. Prep everything in the morning or the night before, and the whole lovely melange of vegetables and broth putters away in a crock pot or on a stovetop all day. The other is the quick kind. From cookbook to table in an hour or less, the quick soup earns its flavor not from slow simmering infusing the vegetables with flavor, but more from shots of spice that deliver a quick punch.
This winter soup is of the latter variety; a thick purée resembling nothing other than a carrot or sweet potato baby food, it’s chock full of grown-up flavors like ginger and cumin that blend together in silken bliss. You’ll certainly get a perk-up of summery beta carotene from this soup, whose vegetables straddle an epicurean line between apples picked from autumn trees and carrots pulled from warm late-summer soil, and hearty ingredients pulled from winter storage.
It satisfies winter’s comfort-food cravings while delivering a whisper of the autumn just lost.
winter soup of carrots, lentils, apple, and sweet potato
I use an immersion blender for in-the-pot puréeing. It’s a zillion times more convenient than the conventional method of pouring the soup into a blender in batches and puréeing that way. However, If you don’t have an immersion blender, feel free to purée it in a blender or try it chunky. Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com
prep: 20 minutes
to table: 60 minutes
special equipment: immersion blender
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) salted butter
2 large sweet potatoes
3 large carrots
1/2 cup lentils, any variety
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
4 cups vegetable broth
plain yogurt, for garnish (optional: destroys the vegan-ness, of course)
Peel and chop sweet potatoes, carrots, and apple. Chop the onion. You’ll be puréeing this later, so it’s not necessary to be super-precise.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook five minutes, until translucent or nearly so. Add chopped sweet potatoes, carrots, and apple and cook another five minutes.
Now dump in everything else (except the yogurt, of course): Stir in the lentils, ginger, black pepper, salt, cumin, chili powder, paprika and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer about 30 minutes, until the lentils and vegetables are soft.
With an immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. Serve garnished with a healthy dollop of plain yogurt. You may garnish with sour cream if you like, but I’ve tried both and the yogurt tastes better and melts into the soup better when stirred in.
Nutrition information per serving (including 1 tablespoon plain yogurt per serving): 250 calories; 9.3g fat; 21mg cholesterol; 916mg sodium; 33g carbohydrate; 9g fiber; 11g sugars; 10g protein; 359% vitamin A; 29% vitamin C; 9% calcium; 13% iron