It’s been a while. Belated Happy New Year! 🙂 Although I haven’t been posting, I have been cooking, of course.
It has been absolutely freezing here. Freezing. My husband requests some sort of chili or stew for dinner in cold weather. Needless to say, I have a handful of wonderful new cold weather soups to share.
This vegetarian “chili” incorporated both ancho and chipotle chiles as well as roasted garlic. My favorites! 🙂 I also loved the pop of flavor from all of the fresh herbs. It was flavorful and fabulous. An added bonus was that the flavors developed over time and the soup was even better the following day.
This recipe was adapted from one of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks, Fields of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes from the Celebrated Greens Restaurant by Annie Somerville. I doubled the recipe, increased the lentils and tomatoes, used whole San Marzano tomatoes, substituted fresh thyme for oregano, and increased the heat by using additional chipotle chile puree. I also modified the technique to roast the garlic.
Yield: Serves 10
- 1 pound of brown lentils
- 12 cups cold water
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 fresh sage leaves
- 2 fresh oregano or thyme sprigs
- 2 heads of garlic
- 4 T extra-virgin olive oil
- 28 oz canned whole San Marzano tomatoes, with juice
- 2 red onions, diced, about 4 cups
- coarse salt
- 2 tsp cumin seed, toasted and ground
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 carrots, diced, about 1 cup
- 2 small red and/or yellow bell peppers, diced, about 1 cup
- 4 T Ancho Chile Purée (from 1 large or 2 small chiles, see below)
- 1 tsp Chipotle Purée, (from 1 chile in adobo sauce) plus more, to taste (I added an additional 1/2 tsp)
- 2 T chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish, as desired
- 2 T chopped fresh oregano, for garnish
- Sort and rinse the lentils and place them in a soup pot with the water, bay leaves, sage, and oregano/thyme sprig.
- Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook, uncovered, at a gentle boil for 15 to 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Remove the herbs.
- While the lentils are cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Rub the whole garlic heads with a little olive oil, wrap them together in a packet of aluminum foil, and seal it closed. Place directly on the oven rack and roast for about 30 minutes, until soft.
- When the garlic has cooled, slice off the top of each head and squeeze the garlic out of its skin. Purée with the tomatoes in a blender or food processor and set aside.
- Make the Ancho Chile Purée: Pull the chile(s) apart at the stem end and remove the seeds. Place in a small bowl and cover with hot water, allowing to soak for 15 to 20 minutes, until softened. Place in a blender or food processor; add a small amount of the soaking liquid and process to a smooth purée, adding more liquid if needed.
- Make the Chipotle Chile Purée: Using a blender or food processor, purée one whole chile with additional adobo sauce until smooth. Unused purée can be stored in a jar in the refrigerator.
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. (I used a 4 quart pot.) Add the onion, 1 teaspoon of salt, the cumin, and the dried oregano; sauté over medium heat until the onion is soft, about 7 to 8 minutes.
- Add the carrot and peppers and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the chile purées, the puréed tomatoes and garlic, and 2 teaspoons of salt; simmer for 10 minutes.
- Combine the beans and their broth with the vegetables, partially cover, and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Add salt to taste.
- Adjust heat, as desired, by adding additional ancho or chipotle purée. (I added an additional 1/2 tsp chipotle.)
- Sprinkle in fresh herbs (cilantro and/or oregano), as desired, just before serving.
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