Indian-Spiced Red Lentil, Okra & Zucchini Soup
Strictly speaking, it is supposedly Springtime and I should probably be making more snacks and salads, or nice fresh fruit dishes... but things being what they are, weather-wise, I am still making warm and hearty meals to combat the cold and the rain!
I decided to make this mildly spicy vegetable soup this evening, mainly to make use of the handful of okra I had left over from yesterday, but also because it is just so easy and fun to make a satisfying vegetarian soup! And easy sounded like a good idea to me! It always does!
Spiced with tasty and mild Garam Masala, this was a gentle but very tasty dish, with plenty of fresh coriander to freshen up the flavor and a good vegetable base to add depth and texture to those good old red lentils.
For one nice, big bowl of soup, I needed 1 zucchini- a round one in this case, but a regular one is perfectly fine too, 2 cups of red lentils, 1 carrot, 1 shallot or onion, about 1" of fresh ginger, around 10 pods of okra, 6-7 cherry tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of Garam Masala, some fresh cilantro and a little fresh yogurt to use as a garnish later.
I began by finely grating the carrot and the zucchini and finely chopping the ginger and the shallot. I removed the seeds from the center of the zucchini as the center is soft and bland and adds nothing to the flavor of the dish.
These ingredients went into a saucepan with a small pat of butter and were stirred until they began to soften and brown.
Once the grated vegetables, ginger and shallot had cooked for 4-5 minutes, I added a tablespoon of Garam Masala, seasoned with salt, pepper and a little cayenne and returned to the heat for 2-3 minutes more until the spice was well mixed in with the vegetables. I allowed it to stick to the bottom of the pan a little as this also produces good flavors once the pan is deglazed.
Next came the red lentils and the okra, which I had cut into small slices. I stirred these in well, with the heat rather high, again, in order to let a little good flavor develop at the base of the saucepan, ready for the next step...
... and of course the next step was to finally deglaze the pan, which I did with boiling water, enough to cover all of the ingredients well. I checked the seasoning and added salt, pepper and spice accordingly, then reduced the heat to a low simmer and let it boil away for 5 minutes.
In the meantime, I finely chopped a nice handful of cilantro and sliced up the cherry tomatoes. After 5 minutes, I stirred these in too and let the saucepan simmer away for a further 5-10 minutes, until the lentils were soft and tender. I added water little by little as necessary, as of course both the okra and the lentils thicken the soup up quite a bit.
And after 20-25 minutes of cooking, this lovely, mild and spicy dish of mixed vegetables and lentils was ready to serve!
Such a tasty, Vegetarian treat!