I served this soup yesterday to some house guests who came over for dinner and got such great reviews that I thought sharing it with you. We were eight at the table yesterday night, meaning that I made a huge pot of soup and will be enjoying the leftovers today as part of my Christmas dinner. Red lentils and butternut squash really are a great combo, and the natural sweetness of the latter (enhanced by roasting) is complemented by the addition of cinnamon. To give things a little punch, dried chiles are added to the soup, and the final result – yet very delicate – has some background heat, almost like the role played by back vocals in melodies. A couple more technical notes on the soup: it lasts for a couple of days in the refrigerator (three to four), but as it has the tendency to thicken over the time, add a little water when reheating it. Also, if you don’t have the chiles at hand, you can add some cayenne pepper instead (1/4 teaspoon should be enough).
And finally last, but not the least: there are a couple of traditional portuguese recipes (both sweet and savory ones) typical for this of the year that I’d like to post up here. I still do have to work on them, as they’re not vegan, but once I get them right, they’re all yours too. Mery Christmas to all of you. Love, J.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup with Cinnamon
(for 8 to 10 servings)
1,3 kg butternut squash, seeded and cubed, but not peeled
1 and ½ cups (270 grams) red lentils
8 cups (2 liters) light vegetable broth
3/4 teaspoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3 small dried red chiles, stemmed and finely cut
salt to taste
2 large white onions, finely chopped
a handful chopped coriander, for serving
8 tablespoons pine nuts
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Line a baking dish with parchment paper and lightly coat it with olive oil. Add the cubed butternut squash, sprinkle with a little salt, and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the squash is tender and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool at room temperature.
2. In the meantime, heat a large pot over medium-heat, add a few glugs of olive oil (2 to 3 tablespoons), the chopped onion, dried chiles, 3/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and the ground ginger. Cook, stirring often, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the onion has softened and browned just a bit.
3. Add the lentils and stock to the pan. Bring to a boil and, once boiling, reduce the heat to a low-medium and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked. Once the lentils are cooked, add the roasted butternut to the pot, and season with salt to taste.
4. With an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth.
5. Toast the pine nuts in a large dry skillet over medium-high heat. It should take about 3 to 4 minutes to get them slightly brown. At the last minute of toasting, stir in 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and a pinch of salt, mixing well until the pine nuts are well coated.
6. To serve, transfer the soup to deep plates and add plenty of chopped coriander and one tablespoon per person of the toasted pine nuts.
recipe loosely inspired by Moro East
When I first started this blog I promised myself I’d be posting a recipe at least once a week. Back then, I was so excited about this whole blogging thing that I found myselft posting two, three, recipes a week. But school work has been leaving me with very little time to cook these days, and that’s the main reason why I can’t keep with my former promise all the time. Anyway, today, after an almost 12 hour sleep (yes, that’s possible), I cured my tiredness from the very busy week I had, and sit in front of the computer after lunch – this time, not to work on the projects I have on hand, but to write you the recipe for a delicious upside-down pear cake.
As I’ve told you in the previous post, I’ve been working with gluten-free flours recently and the results couldn’t be better. So, this cake not only is gluten-free but delicious on its own. Chickpea flour is here used in place of eggs and the pairing of buckwheat with fall fruits such as pears, seems to work extremely well. As we’re approaching Christmas, and I’m experimenting with a couple ingredients typicall for this time of the year, it’s more likely that the following recipes will be desserts, cakes, and hearty savory dishes – we’ll then have plenty of time in January to get back on track. ; )
Upside down Pear Cake
(one 23 cm cake, 6 to 8 slices)
for the fruit layer:
3 medium-sized pears, ripe but firm, cored and sliced
3 tablespoons muscavado sugar
3 tablespoons vegan margarine
a pinch of cinnamoon
for the cake layer:
140 grams (1 cup) buckwheat flour
130 grams (1 cup) white rice flour
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
5 tablespoons melted vegan margarine
100 grams unsweetened soy youghurt
45 grams gram flour
60 ml (¼ cup) plus 3 tablespoons water
160 ml (2/3 cups) soy milk
120 grams muscavado sugar
80 ml (1/3 cup) agave nectar
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Oil a 23 cm round baking pan.
2. Heat a large skilllet over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of vegan margarine, pears, sugar, and cinnamon, and cook, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the pears are tender and slightly caramelized. Let the cooked pears cool to room temperature. Transfer the pears and their syrup to the prepared pan, spreading evenly.
3. In a large bowl, combine the buckwheat and white rice flours, powdered ginger, ground cinnamon, salt and baking powder.
4. In another large bowl, whisk the melted vegan margarine and sugar. Add the yoghurt, soy milk, and agave nectar to the mixture, stirring to combine.
5. In a medium-sized bowl, add the gram flour and water, whisking everything until you get a smooth consistency. Slowly pour this mixture over the wet mixture and combine well.
6. Using a rubber spatula, fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture, being careful not to overmix.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan – over the pears – and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
8. Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting onto a large plate.