The first cold front of the season is expected tonight, and tomorrow's high predicted to be 68. That's not exactly a frigid wintry day, but in San Antonio, it sure is the beginning of hot soup season!
This recipe, from author Crescent Dragonwagon, has so much going for it; the spices, the lentils, butternut squash and the addition of tart fresh lemon at the end. The author suggests enjoying this soup with a Greek salad and bread. Another suggestion: pick up some of the fresh-baked pita bread at Ali Baba International Food Market, 9307 Wurzbach Road.
Greek Lentil and Spinach Soup with Lemon
1 pound lentils, washed and picked over
2 ½ quarts plus 1 cup vegetable stock
1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons white coriander seed
1 ½ teaspoons whole cumin seed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaves
2 small potatoes, scrubbed and diced
10 ounces fresh spinach, well washed, stems removed and chopped
2 ½ cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, with leaves, sliced
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Salt, to taste
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Paper-thin slices of lemon, for garnish
In a large, heavy soup pot, combine lentils, stock or water, chili, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, oregano, basil, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat to very low and let simmer, partially covered, about 30 minutes.
Add potatoes and spinach, cover again and let simmer another 15 minutes. Add the butternut squash. Cover again and let simmer while you do the next step.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the onion and sauté until it starts to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the celery and garlic and sauté another 3 minutes, stirring often. Add this mixture to the soup; deglaze the skillet with a little soup and add the pan contents to the pot. Add salt, taste for seasoning.
Just before serving, add the lemon juice, stir well and taste again for seasoning. Serve hot with a lemon slice floating on top of each bowl of soup.
Serves 4-6 as an entrée, with a hearty salad (such as a Greek salad) and bread.
From “Soup and Bread” by Crescent Dragonwagon