Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Emergent lentil and tomato soup

Emergence. That phenomenon where the whole is more than the sum of it's parts. Like putting together two people who are used to be alone. In my recent opinion, that is certainly emergent. Or maybe an emergency?

This post is obviously about something much more important than relationships. It's about a truly amazing soup I just created. Or maybe it's more correct to say the twisted recesses of my brain gave birth to this soup. It's basically the love child of my two favourite soups, lentil curry soup and Moroccan tomato and chickpea soup. I so love lentils. And chickpeas. And although I'm not a big fan of spicy food, I do like the somewhat sweeter hotness of harissa compared to chilli paste. And I love tomatoes. So I thought, why not try to marry these two soups into a over the top, everything you could ever want, tomato-chickpea-lentil-harissa extravaganza. And it turns out the result is very much more than the sum of it's parts.

Emergent soup (serves 4-5):
15 g extra virgin coconut oil
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp harissa paste (gives a rather mild hotness, can be increased depending on taste)
2 onions, chopped
1 clove of garlic finely chopped (can be increased)
3 carrots, sliced
3 stalks of celery, sliced
1 can of chickpeas (380 g, 230 g drained weight)
500 g tomato passata with garlic and herbs (you can use regular passata or chopped tomatoes, but in that case add 2 more cloves of garlic and a teaspoon (each) of dried oregano, basil and parsley)
2 cups (500 ml) water
1 vegetable stock cube
120 g (3/4 cups) split red lentils
500 g diced turkey thigh (can be replaced by chicken, or omitted)

One serving (a quarter of the recipe, which results in a rather generous serving with lots of meat) contains 513 kcal, 40 g protein, 37 g carbs (of which 9 g sugars) and 20 g fat. Ok, so that's quite a big serving, but feel free to have a smaller one, and don't judge me please. I'm still sticking to my 1200 kcal diet even when eating this!

The howto:
Chop and slice the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. In a big saucepan, heat up the coconut oil. Add the ginger and harissa and cook for 2-3 minutes while stirring. Reduce heat to medium, and add onions and garlic. Mix with the spices in the saucepan, and let cook for a few minutes, until translucent. Add carrots and celery, mix and let cook for five minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients (the chickpeas with the liquid included), cover with a lid and let slowly cook for 45-50 minutes.

The verdict:
I'm not very good at creating recipes of my own, I like to steal other people's ideas and then slightly fine tune them to fit my tastes. Maybe I'm not a very imaginative person. And I'm pretty sure there will be another lentil, chickpea, tomato and turkey soup out there, but I don't want to google it because I will think of this as my very own recipe. Which I'm immensely proud of! It turned out to be one of the best soups I've ever had. I might obviously be a bit biased in my evaluation, but trust me, it was really, really good.

The harissa brings a nice warmth to the soup, and the tomato passata a wonderful smoothness along with the taste of oregano, a herb I haven't used in a long time, and almost forgotten how good it is. And the chickpeas. Oh, the chickpeas. I love biting into one of those babies, they are just so incredibly good. And that smooth texture feels so lovely as well. 

I decided to use turkey instead of chicken simply because the turkey thigh was quite cheap, only £2.50 for a 500 g pack and it looked nice. And letting it slowly simmer makes the meat nice and tender, and it is more flavourful than chicken fillet. Which you can obviously use in the recipe if you prefer. But I was positively surprised with the turkey leg, and will definitely use it again for something else. So all in all, I think this soup is quite a winner. Even if I say so myself.

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