Recipe of the Week - Carrot and Lentil Soup

The temperature in Toronto reached over 30 C again this week, so once more I have delayed the roasting of pumpkin and squash that I have been hankering after. From the sounds of it we will soon have weather more in keeping with the autumn and I will be able to start cooking heartier fare. The recipe that I tried this week is a bit of a compromise between the substantial orange foods of fall and a lighter texture to have on a hot day. As regular readers of this column will know, I am the queen of substitutions and I made a few here.

The recipe calls for butter but in the interests of my arteries I no longer use it in this kind of cooking. I used olive oil instead. I also didn't have any sun dried tomatoes on hand so I threw in a fresh tomato and that worked out alright. I expect the sun dried tomato would give the soup a bit more depth of flavour and also make it a bit saltier. It also asked for the carrots to be grated, but I was just too lazy so I chopped them. It meant that there were chunks of carrot rather than a smooth puree, but I like a little texture in my soup. Make sure you use red or yellow lentils because you want them to break down completely and green lentils are too sturdy for this recipe. I thought there was too much stock and used more like a litre than the 1.5 litres required This recipe says you need to boil the soup for 40 minutes, but I didn't cook it for anywhere near that amount.

Now that you know how I messed around with this recipe, feel free to mess around with it yourself. Add some crusty bread and a green salad and you've got a nice light dinner.Carrot and Lentil Soup

3 tsp butter or olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 cups carrots, grated
1 cup red or yellow lentils
1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock
125 ml. plain yogurt
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

1. Heat butter or oil in pan on medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute for 4 or 5 minutes or until soft. Add tomato puree and stir for 1 minute. Add carrots, lentils and stock. Bring to a boil. Cook for 40 minutes or until lentils are cooked and breaking down.
2. Puree in blender or food processor.
3. Ladle into bowls and garnish with yogurt and cilantro

This recipe is adapted from the Guardian Observer Food Monthly for September 23, 2007.