Posted by: ThePseudotarian | May 24, 2010

Fire Roasted Tomato Lentil Soup

Hi! It’s been a while – almost 3 weeks – and a hectic time at that. Matt and I are getting settled into our new place, which involves a lot of getting used to our new (and tiny) kitchen. For the past five years, I’ve been really spoiled when it comes to kitchens. I’ve always had plenty of counter space, plenty of drawers and cabinets (sometimes too many) and full size appliances. My last kitchen before I moved is pictured above. It was a super-urban apartment in Shockoe Bottom, an old Tobacco warehouse with a phenomenal space to cook. Now that we’ve moved to Richmond’s lovely, historic Museum District, we’re faced with something new: Richmond’s teeny, tiny Fan kitchens. We have no drawers, few cabinets, a small stove and oven and an undersized fridge. So we’ve been trying to cope – and it’s been fun! All of our silverware is separated in three bar shakers on a windowsill near the counter andwe recently hung our pots and pans along the wall. Our next step is open shelving above the stove.

This weekend, Matt was working until 3 am almost every night, so I had to fend for myself with some movies (I finally watched Julie and Julia!), wine and some quality time with the puppy.

Whenever these kind of weekends come along, I want simple, comfort food. That usually means something I can serve in a bowl: soup, pasta or veggies and beans topped with an egg. This weekend, I opted for a lentil soup – something bright but filling. I looked over a bunch of recipes, and finally improvised this one, where a splash of red wine develops the broth into something … a little more decadent.

Here’s what I ended up with:

Fire Roasted Tomato Lentil Soup

2 cups lentils
3 cups vegetable broth
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 14-oz can fire roasted tomatoes
cayenne pepper
garlic powder
splash of red wine
salt and pepper to taste

Cook lentils in a pot of lightly-salted water until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain. While the lentils are cooking, heat the olive oil in a soup pot and add the chopped onion. Turn the heat down to medium-low and saute the onion slowly, until tender and just beginning to brown around the edges. Add a splash of wine (I did just enough to cover the bottom of the pot, but not the onions) and turn heat up to medium. Let the wine simmer and reduce a bit while scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen up any juices or browned bits of the onions. Stir in the vegetable broth, can of fire roasted tomatoes (these are key – regular diced tomatoes don’t do this soup justice) and cooked lentils and bring back to just a simmer. This is where you can begin to adjust your seasonings. I always like my soups with plenty of fresh ground black pepper and a bit of heat to them. That’s why I’m hesitant to give you direct measurements on the cayenne or the salt or pepper. It’s really up to your preference!

When I served the soup (… to myself), I added a thin drizzle of olive oil around the bowl. I’ve found that this really pumps up the flavor in soups like this. It retained its brightness, and the oil added just the touch of richness I needed for a lazy day on the couch. Another thing I loved about this soup is that it keeps incredibly well – it was even more delicious the next morning. And yes, I eat soup for breakfast …

Next time, I’d love to try adding spinach or arugula, fresh garlic, smoked paprike and cheese or threads of egg white. Any more ideas anyone? And any tips on coping with teeny-tiny urban kitchens?

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