Asparagus, Lentil & Mushroom Soup
I love this simple Asparagus, Lentil & Mushroom soup! I've made it 5 or 6 times in the last month, varying the spices, and the amount of heat. It makes a wonderfully satisfying winter lunch - the lentils provide a low-fat protein and fiber hit, the asparagus offers a contrasting freshness, and the mushrooms round out the flavor with a warm earthiness. Considering the 10 inches of rain we've had over the past 5 days here in Marin County, this soup delivers comfort without a lot of calories, perfect for a few quiet days indoors.
I've made it with and without fresh thyme, and used a variety of spices - ground cumin and coriander, a Bengali spice mix called Panch Phoron (cumin, fennel, fenugreek, black mustard and Nigella seeds), cumin and mustard seeds. I've added heat with chili-garlic sauce, jalapenos, and cayenne pepper. I've used Trader Joe's steamed lentils and also cooked dried lentils. In the picture above, I used the tiny black "caviar" lentils (simply boil in water for 25 minutes until almost tender).
My staples for this recipe are lemon juice, sherry vinegar, tomato paste (I keep a tube by the stove for soups) and a couple of chopped olives to add richness. Fresh spinach would also be a worthy addition.
I love the combination of asparagus and lentils. For a salad version see my Lentil & Asparagus Salad with Goat Cheese & Walnuts. Enjoy!
Asparagus, Lentil & Mushroom Soup:
1 TBS olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 glove garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin (or try combinations discussed above)
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp butter (or fav vegan substitute)
1 cup asparagus (thick ends removed, chopped into 1/2 inch rounds)
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (I used cremini)
1 cup cooked lentils
24 oz vegetable stock
1 tsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce
3 olives, finely chopped
1 tsp sherry vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and cook the chopped shallot and minced garlic for 2 minutes. Add the ground cumin and coriander and cook 30 seconds, stirring well. Add the butter, melt, and add the chopped asparagus with a couple of grinds of salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms, stir well, cover and cook 2 minutes. Add the cooked lentils and vegetable stock, partially cover and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and add the tomato paste, chili garlic sauce, chopped olives and sherry vinegar. Let the soup cook for 8-10 minutes over low heat, so it is just bubbling. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper. Enjoy!