A Tale of Three Soups

Posted on March 31, 2012


Can you guess which is which?

Question: What does one do with 15(ish) cloves of garlic, and a variety of red and orange veggies and grains?

Answer: Keep reading…!

As winter draws to a close, and nippy sunny spring days surround us with promise of beauty, heat, and new life (via budding trees and new beginnings for me)…I want to pause and look back on some wonderful winter favorites; lest in the dying days of the fall these recipe memories have escaped us.

The inspiration for red lentils was their colorful beauty, as I stared a shelf-full of grains in our favorite Harlem Market-WOM.

It’s title does not do justice to the wonders which this place contains.


Egyptian Red Lentil Soup

(Adapted from Food and Wine)

This is known as “Shorbet Ads”; and is traditionally served to break the Ramadan fast as an evening meal, since it is nutritious and easy on the system after a day of no food and water. Each country has their own take on what should be added; many countries use tomato paste but Egyptian versions use tomato chunks. Lebanese versions add leeks-something I contemplated…

2 tbsp butter

1 onion chopped

2 carrrots, finely chopped

3 celery ribs, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves (or 4)-thinly sliced

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp “ancho chile” powder (I used regular chili powder-gasp) AND/OR

handful of chopped fresh cilantro

1 lb tomatoes, seeded, diced (start with a bit more than a lb-hint)

2 cups red lentils. Yes, the fiery ones.


Serve with plain yogurt, lemon wedges and pita!

In a large pot, melt butter, and then add onion, celery, garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened; 5 min.

Then add the spices (except salt) and enjoy the smells that ensue; 2 min.

Add tomatoes, cook until just soft, 2 min. Then throw in lentils and 8 cups of water, and season with salt.

Simmer over moderately low heat until lentils are soft; 30 min.

It will start to look strange because the innards of the lentils explode out in the process of cooking.

Thus, work in batches to puree the soup (or use one of those handy stirring contraptions in the pot itself).

Season with more salt, and serve with the yogurt, lemon wedges and pita.

On to the next…(Or, better yet, make them all at the same time…it only led to a couple of “whoops-es” in this kitchen…)


Butternut Squash Soup-The Pure version

This is the purist version; if you shudder to think about adding any broth to change/dilute the taste of pefectly sweet-smooth squash, think about just using the squash “innards” to make a broth…I also like this version because I wasn’t fully satisfied in the past with either method of roasting the squash before soupifying it, or boiling the squash in water; the first is somewhat time consuming and the second doesn’t bring out the right flavors. This method produces the “essence” of squash goodness; the reduction method caramelizes the squash  with the onions and butter, and you add cream only to make it the right consistency, not because it isn’t rich enough already.

One butternut squash (medium)

medium onion

2 tbsp butter

a few garlic cloves

salt, pepper, to taste

heavy cream-between 1/2 c and 1 1/2 c depending on how big your squash was…aka…eyeball it…;)

Yep-that’s it!

Chop butternut squash. Couple different tips for peeling and cutting squash–I find that slicing it once down the middle sometimes makes the peeling process easier; though you have to be ok with getting squashy hands. If not, why the heck are you cooking in the first place? Also, for all of you frugal types out there that will try to only peel off the skin but conserve every speck of orange material–don’t do it. You need to work with the portion of the squash that is actually soft enough to taste/blend well when cooking. Thus you should plan to maybe go a little deeper on the peeling if you know you are ‘one of those’ people…

Throw butter and onion in a large-ish saucepan, and cook until onion is soft/translucent; 5 min. Add all the squash, stirring to coat with butter. Add garlic. Then let it cook on medium heat for a while (maybe an hr? Don’t remember–whoops–I was doing too many other things). You’ll see it get really soft and start to just disintegrate. Adjust heat and stir occasionally as you see fit; ie, don’t just set a timer and walk away.

You could be making peasant bread in the meantime!

When it’s soft enough, either puree in batches in a blender to get it totally smooth, or use a handy stick mixer to smooth out the lumps while it’s still in the pot. Then turn down to lowest heat setting and add cream, just before serving.

Salt and Pepper to taste. Once we served this for a crowd with a salt platter for people to pick and choose from-it was great–pink Hawaiian salt was my favorite.

So, are you tired of orange comforting goodness? Here’s soup # 3–much more experimental recipe, so let me know if you like it/and/or have suggestions.


Spicy Carrot Soup

(Loosely based on a food and wine recipe–different enough you deserve to see the original too)

5 cups chicken stock (I made my own; easy enough-just take a chicken off the bone and cook the innards/bones with water at a roiling boil for 20ish minutes)

1 lb carrots, coarsely chopped

few stalks of celery

2 shallots chopped

1 tsp cumin

couple dashes of sweet paprika

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper-I know for a fact I put in more

some fresh grated ginger

crushed garlic-couple cloves

optional-bay leaves–see cautionary whoops note below

salt, pepper

1 cup buttermilk or yogurt (I used buttermilk because it’s what we had, but I recommend yogurt primarily)

Optional: some fresh chopped parsley, for sprinkling on top

Basically just throw everything in a pot and simmer for 15 minutes; then puree.

Add cream last.

Serve with parsley, and a smile.

Whoops–I may, just may, have forgotten to remove 2 out of the 3 bay leaves before pureeing. Also, I somehow lost my touch with the hand blender for the third soup (weird, right?) so after I post this I need to clean my range, my wall, and maybe also my germinating veggie seeds which were huddled close to the stove for warmth on this cold March afternoon.


Adios soups until next winter! Look forward to hearing from you guys what your favorite soup recipes are. They don’t have to be orange…

Posted in: Soups