Since declaring myself vegan (although in addition to cutting out dairy, fish and meat, I have also cut out refined sugars, flours, breads and pasta; focusing more on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes), this has caused quite a hubbub amongst my friends and family when we eat together. What will I eat? Does the restaurant have a Janet-friendly vegan option? And what the heck will I eat over Easter?
I didn’t really anticipate this, because my meals have gradually become vegan over time. Combined with a few new cookbooks and new (and old) blogs that I follow, the transition in my own kitchen has been easy and gone un-noticed for the most part. I just had to switch from my 1% milk to a nondairy drink (I have been meticulously documenting my experiences to find my favourite).
I am hoping my blog can inspire others to try recipes that are filled with more whole foods. Contrary to popular belief, the foods I eat taste good. I make no apologies for including a lot of fresh produce and spices, because that’s where the flavour comes from.
However, there are lots of recipes that I make that are very simple and fast, too. I first made this soup to rave reviews from my family over Christmas, including my Dad who doesn’t really like beans, and I plan on breaking it out again over Easter. Adapted from the New York Times, red lentils are simmered into a creamy yet chunky soup, that is complemented by a smoky cumin-tomato broth yet becomes a light soup with the fresh lemon juice. The cilantro is stirred right into the soup and adds the brightness that makes this soup so special, so please do not skip this step. Such a simple recipe, yet it is more than the sum of its parts. Decadent enough to be served to company and quick enough to prepare so that you can enjoy their company instead of labouring in the kitchen. Easy to double so you can enjoy leftovers for a few days.
What vegan meals do you enjoy sharing with others that are not vegan?
Red Lentil and Lemon Soup
3 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste (I omitted)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup red lentils
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
Juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (do not skip this!!)
1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.
2. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chili powder or cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.
3. Add broth, red lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.
4. Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée the soup to your desired consistency. I kept mine somewhat chunky.
5. Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder if desired.