If I were doing soup from a duck stock in November, it would probably include root veg, barley or wild rice, and maybe cabbage. Or some white beans. Which combos I do love. In my view, soup, hot and cold, is an all season treat.
But with summer just around the corner, I thought I'd go easy on those vegetables I associate with winter storage. This week a friend at work brought me asparagus from her garden, and now I can't wait for the CSA deliveries, which start in June.
Of course, lentils can make for hearty winter fare, too. Somehow, though, when combined with vaguely Indian flavors, to me they conjure warm weather, rather than cold. A friend of mine (you know who you are) once said, long ago, that lentil soup "tastes like dirt." She was not entirely wrong on that. It does sort of taste of the soil.... in a good way....really. And it grows on you. I am very fond of it.
I made this simple soup from the duck stock in the fridge. A rich homemade stock- preferably turkey or duck- does wonders for lentil soup, or any legumes, really. It's a bit gelatinous and feels fortifying without being heavy. Which is why a cool aspic can be so heavenly when it's very hot out.
I found part of a box of pretty puy lentils- just enough, and a bit of arugula that was approaching its last legs. So, here you have it- it's not authentically anything, but it is nice. If I'd taken the time to toast some individual spices, instead of the curry powder, it might have been better. Maybe you will do that.
1 1/2 quarts rich stock
3/4 cup puy lentils
2 tbsps canola oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsps grated fresh ginger
3 tsps madras curry powder, recently purchased and non musty
2 cups arugula, or as much as you have if it's not that much-spinach works, too
pinch aleppo pepper
handful chopped scallions
a sliced lime
handful chopped cilantro
In a large-ish heavy pot, cook the onion slowly until it is soft and just beginning to color.Add the ginger and garlic, stir for a minute. Then add the curry powder and aleppo pepper, and stir until everything is colored. Pour the stock over all, and stir it up. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the lentils are soft. Remove from heat, and stir in the arugula until it is wilted. Salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls.
A squirt of lime juice and some cilantro and scallions in each bowl tie it in with my drink of choice- limeade. Homemade limeade with spicy legumes is a natural combo. Very good for lunch at work and other times where you might want to eschew the beer (another friendly drink), in light of the need to say, do stuff after, instead of napping.
To make limeade you will need to first make a concentrated lime syrup. In a small heavy pan, bring a cup of water to the boil, add a cup of sugar, and continue to cook, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Cool. Meanwhile, squeeze and strain about 8 medium limes into a lipped container, like one of those extra large pyrex thingies. When the syrup is cooled, mix it into the lime juice. This is your concentrate. You can freeze it, in cubes or otherwise, store it covered in the fridge, or make some limeade right now.
The proportions are 1 to 3, concentrate to water. It tastes of summer, and is excellent with spicy food, and also pretty amazing with sugar cookies. A mint sprig floating atop a tall frosty glass would not be amiss.
You probably already know that the photo at the table is the Marx Bros. in "Duck Soup". Sometimes things happen when you don't take the limeade option. Though I don't think these guys needed any fuel to engage in their antics.