Here’s another guest post by me, Rob, enthusiast of the tempeh and the tamarind… and this blog!
One day, not too long ago, Saveur told me about a certain dish she was planning to make. This dish featured one of my favourite ingredients: tamarind! She was making it for this blog. I’m sure that you will see it soon. This dish was right up my alley and I wanted to make it for myself, too. She told me that I could borrow the cookbook so I could transcribe the recipe for myself… as long as she got it back the next day. She needed it!
She was very excited about this cookbook. It was Radiant Health, Inner Wealth by Quintessence C. Challis. It was full of many vegan recipes that were designed to be as healthy and fulfilling as possible. I think she has big plans for this cookbook. I can see why she needed it back.
When I took the book home I began to leaf through it to evaluate its potential. The photograph on the cover was simply entrancing: pineapple, mangos, kiwifruits, shredded coconut, fried cubes of tofu, peanuts… these are some of my favourite things! It’s not just tamarind and tempeh that get me all wobbly in the knees, after all. Was this cookbook designed for me? Did the author know that I would be starting at this cover and be hypnotized?
As my interest was piqued, I continued looking through the book. One dish, the Lemon-Ginger Miso Medicine asks the reader, “How exactly will this soup give you the superpowers?” That’s liberal use of the definite article! The cookbook has the good style! And who wouldn’t want some superpowers?
However, neither the tamarind recipe nor the miso medicine were the recipes that caught my attention that night. It was the Red Lentil, Spinach, and Lemon Soup. The description of this recipe commented that red lentils are “one of those foods that proves life is good!” I agree! That’s one of my mantras: life is good! It’s short and you have to make the most of it.
It was a sign. I had to make this. The various tamarind dishes could get in the queue and wait for later.
Unlike many soups, this one doesn’t have much fat or salt. It was full of healthy lentils. The spinach and garlic are added at the end and cooked only a little bit, helping to preserve any good stuff inside them. I made it, ate the leftovers for days, and just made it again the other day. One good soup deserves another round, right?
Red Lentil, Spinach, and Lemon Soup
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp oil (sunflower, coconut, olive, or safflower)
1 medium-large onion, finely chopped
6 cups water
1 cup plus 2 tbsp dry red lentils
zest from 1 large organic lemon
2 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves (optional)
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (I used the juice from 1 lemon only)
1/2 cup nondairy milk (plain or unsweetened)
4 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 cups (lightly packed) fresh baby spinach
1 tbsp (or less if preferred) sea salt
fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
1/4 cup minced fresh chives or scallions
1. In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until soft and lightly browned.
2. Add the water, lentils, and lemon zest. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the lentils are very soft, about 30-40 minutes.
3. Turn off the heat and add the thyme, lemon juice, milk, garlic, spinach, salt, and pepper. Stir well and cover the soup pot with a lid. Allow the soup to sit, covered, until the spinach is wilted.
4. Stir well and serve garnished with the fresh chives (or scallions). Feel it!