Lentil and Roasted Tomato Soup with Saffron

Lentil and Roasted Tomato Soup with Saffron

Thanks to a recent NYTimes article, I was introduced to London based chef, Diana Henry and her new book, A Change of Appetite. This gorgeous book is focused on recipes comprised of great tastes that happen to be healthy.  It’s been a joy spending time in the kitchen, playing around with her recipes and I’m so excited to share the most recent go at Lentil and Roasted Tomato Soup with Saffron.  This soup is really delicious and provides warm, homey and earthy tastes that are so comforting in the coming Fall and Winter months.  One component that makes this dish taste so rich and deep is by practicing a layering technique where the tomatoes are first roasted in the oven and then later brought a low boil over the stove.

Some of the key ingredients that make this dish so special include lentils, roasted tomatoes and saffron; all of which provide many nutritional benefits.  Lentils, which are particularly rich in dietary fiber and lean in protein, help to lower cholesterol, promote a healthy digestive system and stabilize blood sugar levels.  Tomatoes are packed with vitamin C and when cooked, the process brings out lycopene, an antioxidant that can reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and macular degeneration.  Finally, saffron, is packed with manganese, which also helps regulate blood sugar, metabolizes carbohydrates and absorb calcium.  So when you try this dish, you won’t only be making your taste buds happy, but your body will be benefiting, too!

 

Lentil and Roasted Tomato Soup with Saffron

 

Serves 6

10 plum tomatoes, halved

¼ cup olive oil

2 teaspoons harissa

salt and pepper

2 teaspoons brown sugar (optional)

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 tablespoon peanut oil

1 large onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

½ teaspoon turmeric

good pinch of saffron stamens

¾ inch piece of ginger root, chopped

1 green chile, finely chopped

1 cup split red lentils

3 ¾ cups vegetable stock

¼ chopped cilantro leaves

plain yogurt (optional)

toasted slivered almonds

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Put the tomatoes in a roasting pan in which they can lie in a single layer.  Mix together the olive oil, harissa, and salt and black pepper in a small bowl and pour the mixture over the tomatoes.  Turn over to coat, ending with the tomatoes cut side up.  (If your tomatoes aren’t the best, sprinkle the brown sugar over them, but their natural sweetness comes out as the roast.)  Cook for 45 minutes, until slightly shrunken and charred in places.  Set aside the six nicest looking tomato halves.
Toast the cumin and coriander seeds for two minutes in a dry pan.  Grind them in a mortar or spice grinder and set aside.  Heat the peanut oil in a saucepan and saute’ the onion until soft and golden brown.  Add the garlic, all the spices, ginger, and chile and cook for two minutes.  Add the lentils, stirring to coat in the cooking juices, tomatoes with their juices, and the stock.  Season well.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the lentils have collapsed into a puree.  The tomatoes should have disintegrated, too.  Now either puree the soup or keep it chunky.  Check the seasoning and stir in most of the cilantro.  Serve each bowlful with a swirl of yogurt (if you want), a reserved tomato half, a few toasted almonds, and some of the remaining cilantro.