Monday, November 11, 2013

Red Lentil Chili

To continue my “Week in the [Project] Life” series for Project Life 365, today’s prompt is #lunch.  My interview for Project Life 365 will be featured on their blog too! For background on this project, please read my previous #breakfast post. You can find me on Instagram @lauravein and Project Life 365 at @projectlife365.

#lunch: Red Lentil Chili with Scallions & Sour Cream

Hands down, my favorite lunch item is soup. Or stew. Or chowder. Or chili. I don’t discriminate :) Especially as the weather finally cools down, there is nothing quite like sitting down with a bowl of steaming soup & a hunk of your favorite bread (whether it is gluten free or just a regular loaf).


When it comes to making pastry items, I am very particular about having recipes & following them explicitly.  But when it comes to soup, all that rigidity falls away. I become this whole different person who *gasp* doesn’t always cook with a recipe... who adds a little more of this or that based on what I have on hand... who uses a recipe solely as inspiration.  I am learning, though, that it isn’t a bad idea to write down the ingredients I use & perhaps an approximation of their amounts so that I don’t find myself wishing in the future that I could remember what I put in a particular batch of soup that we really liked.

I also like to make soup in big batches & freeze it in individual portions.  There’s nothing nicer than looking into the freezer & seeing a multitude of lunch options, especially if we happen to be low on other groceries.


Last spring, when I was working in Atlanta and Alabama, we served Tami Hardeman Boutte’s “Red Lentil Chili” {LINK} which was a total game changing soup for me!  The flavor is spectacular & it is SO easy to make--the whole batch is ready in under 45 minutes. Although this soup is technically vegan (before you add the optional sour cream), even my carnivore husband enjoys it! The red lentils are so “meaty” that you won’t even notice there isn’t actual meat in it. And it is very affordable to make a big batch.  If I plan to freeze any of this soup, I undercook the lentils just slightly in the initial cooking process because I don’t want them to turn out too mushy once the soup is thawed & reheated.


Two words of advice: Make this soup! Pronto! You deserve a decent, hearty lunch :) And don’t skimp on using good smoked paprika!


Check back tomorrow for my #dinner post!  

Red Lentil Chili (Gluten Free)
Slightly adapted from Running with Tweezers 
makes 4 servings, but can easily be doubled or tripled 

Due to some health issues, I can no longer eat spicy food, so I toned down the soup just slightly, but my husband, who still loves & can eat spicy things, usually adds some crushed red pepper & extra Sriracha to his portions. 

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1/2 jalapeño, finely diced, (remove the seeds for less heat, or leave them in) 
1 cup red lentils, rinsed & picked over
2 1/2 cups water (add additional water if you prefer a thinner soup) 
1 15 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. light brown sugar
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. Sriracha or preferred hot sauce
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

sour cream, optional, to garnish
chopped scallions, optional, to garnish
crushed red pepper & additional Sriracha, optional, to garnish 
  1. In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion & carrot & saute, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add the jalapeno & saute 1 to 2 additional minutes. 
  2. Add the remaining ingredients (minus the garnish scallions) and stir to combine. 
  3. Bring the chili to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat to a simmer & cook until the lentils are cooked, approximately 25 minutes, depending on the freshness of your lentils.  Add additional water if a thinner soup is preferred.  
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve the chili topped with garnishes of choice.  Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze for longer.  The freezing process may cause the lentils to break down a bit once the chili is reheated.  

props
Soup Pot: Le Creuset
Bowls: Pier 1 and Anthropologie 
Spoons & Trivet: vintage 
Linens: striped napkin from At Home in Birmingham

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