Saturday, January 28, 2012

where crispy = caramelized

Friday: Fragrant Lentil Rice Soup with "Crispy" Onions; fresh-baked bread

(Originally planned for Thursday; foiled by my own tiredness and desire for take-out.)

A lovely soup, even though it turned out that I didn't have any greens to stir in near the end. I don't know why she calls the onions crispy, as they're clearly caramelized (and she calls them that in the head notes). But whatever - it is indeed fragrant, and we both enjoyed it.

Fragrant Lentil Rice Soup with (optional) Spinach & "Crispy" Onions (adapted from Cook This Now)

For the caramelized onions:
  • 3 medium onions, halved from root to stem & thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • pinch kosher salt
  • pinch sugar
Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Melt the butter and heat the oil, then toss in the onions with the salt. Cook until they release their juices (5 min), then sprinkle with sugar, raise the heat to medium-high, and cook until golden (7 more minutes). Turn heat to high, and cook, stirring only a few times, until they are deeply caramelized (5-10 more minutes). If you're me, you won't be able to resist adding a few tablespoons of water and deglazing the pan at this point. Either way, set aside the finished onions.

For the soup:
  • 2 Tbsp oliv oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped*
  • 2" piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped*
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped*
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • pinch ground allspice
  • a bay leaf
  • 6 C stock (chicken or veggie)
  • 3 C water
  • 1/2 C brown long-grain rice
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt more to taste
  • 1 1/2 C red lentils
  • 5 C baby spinach leaves (~ 4 C) or equivalent amount chard or kale (just be sure to cook less-tender greens a bit longer)
  • lime (or lime juice), optional
Heat a large pot over medium heat; warm the oil in it. Add the aromatics (if you didn't puree them together, add the onion first; just add the ginger & garlic with the other spices) and saute until they begin to smell cooked - about 4-5 minutes. Add the spices and cook until very fragrant, about another minute. Add the stock, water, rice, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the red lentils and cook until the rice is done and the lentils are meltingly soft, about 30 more minutes. Stir in the greens (if using) and let them completely wilt. Tast, and add more salt if necessary. If the dish tastes flat, add a little lime juice.

To serve, spoon into bowls and top with a bunch of caramelized onions, a bit of flaky salt, and maybe a tiny squeeze of lime.
serves 6

* I cut the aromatics into chunks and pureed them in a mini-food processor.

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