Curried Lentil Soup with Ham

And the New York Times does it again. I landed on a second recipe that did not make me happy, well not entirely. I am in my can’t-get-enough-of-lentils mode so I made a soup for lunch and tomorrow am making something else. Also, for some inexplicable reason this carnivore has not really been in the mood for meat. It’s been lentils, lentils, lentils! (ok there is ham in the recipe but it is still less than having meat as greater proportion of the meal. This recipe was just an excuse to have more lentils LOL) Or I am looking at other potential recipes for beans and/or split pea. I know ‘tis the season for legumes, but I am going berserk here! Maybe because I am making up for all the years for not eating lentils and now trying out every possible thing and form I can have them in. When you are served only one kind of lentils, prepared only one way your entire life and you don’t like that lentils and it makes you detest it for the rest of your life, and to now make this kind of exquisite discovery? I am over the moon!

So, maybe I should go back and retract what I said about this recipe; it is still tasty, but some things need to be tweaked, I am just surprised they weren’t before this went to print in order to be clear when we, the readers, attempt to make it.

First off, I think it was too much liquid for the soup. Why? They said use “green lentils”. Ohhhh-kaaaayyy… I did even if they say later on to use just a whisk or a potato masher to mash the cooked lentils to thicken the soup. Right then and there I should have known that 1) the lentils no matter which you have, won’t mash with just a whisk (?!), and 2) that green lentils won’t break apart no matter how much you cook them (the least of all the French green lentils even if they’re not du Puy). So I wasn’t off to a good start, but ok, “trusting the recipe”. Here’s what happened…. [this is what I used; you can find the recipe and see what they say originally, but it’s not very different]

Ingredients:

½ lb cooked ham cubed

3 carrots, chopped in dimes or cubed

½ lb green lentils, rinsed

olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onions

1 tbsp finely chopped garlic

2 tbsp curry powder

4 cups chicken stock

2 cups water

1 bay leaf

3 sprigs dried thyme

salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

Preparation:

1. Heat the oil in the pan and add the onions and stir for a few minutes till they soften.

2. Add the carrots, garlic, curry powder and ham. Stir.

3. Add the lentils, the chicken stock and water, thyme, bay leaf and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 25 minutes (right here I thought 6 cups of water was a lot. The NY Times has a 1 more extra cup chicken stock reserved for later; I doubt you’ll need it)

everybody! On board!

everybody! On board!

4. They say to remove one cup of the soup when it is done, with more lentils in it and then whisk/mash the rest and then combine. Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf.

5. Add the vinegar and coriander and serve. (I swear, I forgot the vinegar, oh well, maybe I’ll add a dash the next time I have it. But do have fresh coriander, makes all the difference)

Now, this is what happened. I wanted to purée the soup in a food processor, but I didn’t want the ham whizzed in. So, there was a blond moment here where I decided to pick out (yes! Pick out) what amounts to some 250 gr of cubed ham out of the drained solids of the soup (I officially have no life, but you do, so please don’t be doing this). Needless to say, being the permanent perfectionist I persevered, picked them out, and whirred the rest of the soup. But the food processor did not perform as expected and my soup did not thicken and blend as I would have wanted to. Oh well…. so it all went back in the sauce pan… I guess I was fiddling too much here to go back to the recipe and read that it asks for vinegar. Which, knowing lentils so far, would have been so very nice.

Also, maybe because my lentils did not break apart, the soup is on the thinner side and it feels that there is too much ham and too little lentils (I can’t believe I would ever say those two things in the same sentence). So next time a) make this with a different kind of lentils or b) use less liquid.

Furthermore, I’d rather do this with a teaspoon of some curry paste than plain old curry powder. As much as I like curry powder it might be a little too much when you use 2 tablespoons (I think I detect too much turmeric in there…) I think the soup could benefit from the other spices that go in a curry. So if you have them dried, then play around with cumin, turmeric, coriander, cardamom, a bit of garam masala won’t hurt either…. I didn’t and this was a recipe that fitted my pantry.

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