Sunday, October 26, 2014

Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Pressure Steamed and Stove Charred "Baked" Potato (No Added Fat)

Recently, my family went out to eat at a Turkish restaurant that we like, Talulla's (we love their warm hummus and many other dishes that they make). We had a pureed red lentil soup that was quite good, and I've had it on my mind to learn how to make something like this.

I found a recipe, coincidentally on the Whole Foods Market (a favorite place for us to shop) website, for Turkish Red Lentil Soup. It is a simple recipe of putting into a pot and then simmering, uncovered, for 25m or until the lentils are falling apart and vegetables are very soft these ingredients:
  • 1 1/3 cup red lentils, rinsed (I only had a cup)
  • 7 cups vegetable broth (I used 6 cups of water and 2 vegan bouillon cubes)
  • 1 large onion, finely diced (I aimed for 1/4")
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced (I aimed for 1/4" and used 2 carrots)
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (I used 2 teaspoons, and also added 1/4 t turmeric)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (I skipped due to feeding my daughter)
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
Half of the soup is then pureed and mixed back in to come up with a mainly smooth soup with some small chunks. The recipe calls for optionally serving with lemon wedges and chopped mint; I put a leaf of mint in the bowl and a chunk of preserved lemon.

I also made a pressure steamed and then stove charred "baked" potato, as per an Instant Pot recipe. The recipe calls for putting 2 cups of water into the Instant Pot pot, putting baking potatoes into a smaller bowl set atop the Instant Pot's steamer rack, steaming on high pressure for 25 minutes, and then flame charring the skin.

My Dad didn't eat with us today (he was with friends), so I was free to use the garlic, which contributes an important taste in this recipe. All three of us - my Kindergartener, wife, and myself, loved the soup! I recall the restaurant's one as being a bit better, but my wife wasn't sure and also suggested that they probably had oil in theirs, adding just a bit more luscious flavor.

I already increased the spices that the soup recipe had called for, but it could perhaps use maybe 3t of ground cumin, an extra 2 cloves of garlic, and possibly a third carrot. To deepen the red, a bit more tomato paste could be used - perhaps a total of 3T - but not so much as to lend too strong of a tomato flavor. The mint and lemon were great! While I didn't use cayenne, my wife and I added hot sauce at the table, and that was quite welcome. Were I not cooking for spice-averse people, I would try a teaspoon of chopped jalapeno instead of cayenne.

Small chunks of asparagus would go well with this soup. I would love to reinvent this soup by incorporating kale, though the color would change to a less appealing brownish one. I could change the character of the soup by serving with chopped raw bok choy and perhaps chunks of cooked squash. The soup was great in consistency, but instead of using a 1 part lentil to 6 part water ratio, would be just fine 1 : 4 of 1 : 5 for something more thick.

The potato was good. We ate it as-is without added fat. I think that the potato could be done a bit more, so might cook for maybe 28 minutes next time.

Incidentally, I chose not to pressure cook the main course because red (split) lentils take 15-18 minutes to cook under pressure, not much less than 25 minutes on the stove. I could have made it all in the Instant Pot, and perhaps should try sometime.

As I was researching and writing this up, I noticed that Talulla's calls their soup Mercimek Soup. I guess this traditional soup is known in Turkey as Mercimek Çorbasi. One recipe suggested incorporating sauteed potato (I presume cut into small cubes, perhaps 3/8" in size) as well. I can't wait to make some version of this again, perhaps in the pressure cooker and with more / with no garlic, depending on whether my Dad is visiting. 

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