This story originally aired Nov. 29, 2017.
I like lentils and I love the spicy red lentil soup recipe Nancy Leson recently sent me. Adapted from Lynne Rossetto Kasper's The Splendid Table's How to Eat Weekends, this recipe is fast and easy to make, and perfect for rainy weeknight dinners, too.
For a more time-consuming, weekend lentil dish, do try the lamb shanks and lentils recipe from another Kaspar – Kaspar Donier. You'll find both recipes below. As of publication we still have not received recipes from Kaspar Hauser or Casper the Friendly Ghost but remain hopeful.
The cool thing about cooking with lentils is that you don't have to soak them. They're ready to go right out of the lentilchute. Here's the soup recipe. I raved about it to Mid Day Jazz host Robin Lloyd the next day. She made it, too and loved it, too.
Spicy Red Lentil Soup
Serves 4 to 6
Prep time: 30 minutes active, plus about 45 minutes additional cooking time
There are probably as many versions of Moroccan harira as there are people who make it, but this one — modified from the recipe in Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s cookbook The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Weekends — is among my favorites, and perfect for a rainy day, or night.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced (about a cup)
1 large carrot, small dice (about a cup)
1/3 cup Italian parsley stems and leaves, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro stems and leaves, chopped; plus an additional ¼ cup chopped for garnish
5 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. turmeric,1 tsp. ground cinnamon,1 tsp. ground cumin, 2 tsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
1 1/4 cup dry red lentils, rinsed
1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes, plus their liquid
About 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth, enough to make a slightly thick soup
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
In a 6-quart soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, parsley, ½ cup cilantro and ½ teaspoon Kosher salt and sauté until golden brown (about 8 minutes).
Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the minced garlic, minced ginger, 1 ½ tsp. pepper, 1 tsp. turmeric, 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1 tsp. ground cumin and 2 tsp. paprika. Cook for 30 seconds.
Stir in the lentils, tomatoes and broth. Bring to a gentle bubble then partially cover. Simmer about 45 minutes, stirring every now and then until the lentils are completely tender and the soup thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add a little water if the soup is too thick.
Five minutes before serving, stir the grated orange zest into the soup pot. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro.
KASPAR DONIER’S BRAISED LAMB SHANKS
4 lamb hind shanks
ground black pepper
1 bottle (12 oz) Northwest ale
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon crushed peppercorns
6 garlic cloves
1 medium carrot, peeled
1 medium leek
1 parsnip, peeled
4 celery stalks (or one nice bulb of fennel)
1 cup French green lentils (Le Puy lentils)
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
2. Season shanks with salt and pepper
3. Place shanks in braising pan (or Dutch oven) and roast 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes to brown evenly.
4. Reduce heat to 350 degrees.
5. Add beer, chicken stock, herbs, spices and garlic.
6. Cover with aluminum foil or lid and braise for 1 hour.
7. Dice all vegetables into 1/4-inch cubes and add them AND the lentils to the braising liquid.
8. Cover pan, return to oven and braise 45-60 minutes (or more) until the lentils are al dente and the meat falls easily from the bone.
"Lentils are friendly – the Miss Congeniality of the bean world." – Laurie Colwin.