I love it when Houston behaves itself.
Rob and I had another Canadian visitor recently. In between Polar Vortex 1 and Polar Vortex 2, Houstonians enjoyed balmy (normal) summery weather at its finest. You know, summer how it is meant to be: around 25ºC. None of that feels like 38ºC with 90% humidity forecast. None of that below freezing business (that’s tonight, by the way).
Together, we did more touristy things than we had ever done before: hiking next to alligators, admiring the Museum of Fine Art’s impressive gold collection, watching Americana in our backyard via the Martin Luther King Jr Parade. However, I still skipped out on the stereotypical NASA Space Center visit. We still shared our favourite haunts but explored new restaurants as well. Nearly every meal was pre-planned. My friend had so many restaurants she wanted to try!
After the whirlwind of a visit (if you knew my friend, you would know this is no overstatement), both Rob and my friend parted for Canada. One to Toronto and the other to Winnipeg. Both returned to temperatures around -20ºC (-4F). Yesterday, my friend in Winnipeg told me it was -40ºC with the windshield. For those that need a conversion to Fahrenheit, at -40, both Celsius and Fahrenheit scales collide. Collide and freeze. They are the same. Both, really, really cold.
With the imminent cold weather, I am sharing another warming soup. Red lentils are a perfect blank canvas for a hearty meal. Pureed tomatoes and red lentils are combined with cauliflower and brown rice in a broth spiced with cumin, mustard and dill. I never would have thought to combine those flavours together but the dill really brightened the dish. This is an excellent soup!
How have you been keeping warm lately?
1 tbsp coconut oil, or oil of choice
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 small head of cauliflower, chopped (1.5 cups)
4 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dill seeds
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 cup dry red lentils, rinsed
3.5 cups water
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1 bay leaf
1.5 cups passata (strained tomatoes) – can substitute crushed tomatoes
2-3 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1. In a large soup pot over medium heat, heat oil. Once hot, add onion, sprinkle with salt and saute until softened. Add carrots and cauliflower, cover and saute until softened and the onions have browned. Stir in the garlic and saute until fragrant, around 1 minute. Stir in the cumin seeds, ground cumin, dill seeds, dry mustard and fry until fragrant, another 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Deglaze the pot with the water and stir in the brown rice and lentils. Raise heat to high, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Add bay leaf and cover, simmering for 20-30 minutes, until the lentils have cooked through. Add cooked brown rice and simmer until warmed through, around 5 minutes more. Check periodically to see whether you need to add water. Once cooked completely, stir in passata/tomatoes. Remove bay leaf and top with fresh dill.