I have taken a bit of a hiatus from cooking since I moved to the Portland area. There are just WAY too many amazing options for eating out and about here. Eating out is our big luxury and we feel like our world has opened up again since moving from Reno where the food selection is a bit limited. We may have over-indulged a bit this past year.
One thing we particularly love is having many Mediterranean restaurants to choose from here. Mr. Angela Daniels and I joke that we nearly moved to Seattle instead because our very favorite, The Mediterranean Kitchen, is there- and we're only partially kidding. I could eat Greek salads, humus and tabbouleh every. Single Day. Mmmmmm. I also try the lentil soup at every new Mediterranean restaurant we go to and I generally favor Lebanese-style versions.
With all that in mind, today, I decided to brush up on my creative cooking skills and try my hand at recreating the flavors I love in the best lentil soups I've tried lately. I could NOT be more pleased with the results. I want to make sure I record the specific variations that went into my version of this soup because I cobbled together many recipes as I worked on recreating my favorite flavors. I tend to try and get away with working with what I happen to have on hand (which isn't always successful) which makes following one recipe to the letter impossible. So here's my variation. I'm calling it Guilty Red Lentil Soup:
1 chopped onion
1 or 2 cloves fresh garlic
2 or 3 carrots, thinly diced
2 or so dashes of olive oil
1 or so tablespoons of butter (optional)
2 or so dashes of salt & pepper
➡️Sauté ingredients in a skillet until soft
To a crockpot, add:
All sautéed ingredients from above
2 cups rinsed and drained dried red lentils
2 boxes of chicken stock (substitute vegetable stock if meat ain't your thang)
1 can of partially drained diced tomatoes
Liberal sprinkles of:
🔼 Simmer on low for a few hours, turn up to high for last 2 or until lentils are mostly dissolved
▶️Use a stick blender to blend soup (I do this to hide the tomatoes and onions from my picky eaters- if you don't plunge the blender all the way down to the bottom of the pot, you'll retain some of the lentil and soft carrot texture which I prefer).
▶️To each in fibula serving bowl, add:
A squeeze of fresh lemon (a must for true Mediterranean flavor)
Several fresh cilantro leaves.
Now sit with your bowl on the couch (where you tell the kids they are not allowed to eat), pull up the tackiest Bravo show saved to your DVR and have a way-better-than-a-restaurant experience for a fraction of the cost. I do t know what to tell you about the baklava you'll want when your soup is gone though. A great store-bought baklava is my culinary holy grail. I do know this, I can't imagine make it from scratch.