Archive for May 3rd, 2012

Lemony Red Lentil Soup

May 3, 2012

It has been drizzly gray around here. I have been making soups and stews. I particularly liked a red lentil soup that I found on My New Roots. Blogger Sarah Britton says that this is her favorite recipe, and I can see why. It has a lovely reddish-orange color, is easy to make, and has a delightful lemony flavor that comes from simmering whole slices of lemon with the lentils.

Here is the basic idea: saute a chopped onion, lots of garlic (5 cloves!), and a Tbl. of minced fresh ginger in a little oil until tender. Season with a Tbl. cumin, salt to taste and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Add sauteed mixture to a cup of rinsed red lentils along with a can of diced tomatoes and a quart of vegetable stock.  Add three thin slices of lemon and simmer until tender. Squeeze in some lemon juice and serve.

The general lack of light around here meant I never got a good photo of the soup, so just head on over to My New Roots for the recipe and a lovely picture.

Other red lentil soup recipes on my blog (all fantastic):

Coconut Red Lentil Soup

Lentil Pottage and Good Housekeeping’s Red Lentil Soup

Hila Solomon’s Baghdadi Red Lentil Soup


Chunky Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (dairy-free, oil instead of margarine)

May 3, 2012

Whenever possible, I like to use oil instead of margarine in baking. I was tempted by this recipe for chocolate cookies at Not Without Salt (and see the update post), but it was a butter based recipe and the recipe explained that the creaming of the butter and sugar was important to the final texture.

I wondered: Could I substitute oil for the butter? What does extensive creaming of the butter and sugar do in this recipe? It probably adds little pockets of air, which would make for a fluffier cookie. It also probably helps dissolve the sugar, which would also impact the texture. Cook’s Illustrated claims that dissolved sugar is key for cookies that are crispy on the edges and chewy in the center, and they have a technique for dissolving sugar in melted butter. Their trick is to stir the sugar/melted butter/eggs, rest 3 minutes, stir, rest 3 minutes, stir, rest 3 minutes, and then stir in the dry ingredients.

I am partial to Pam Anderson’s recipe for chocolate chip cookies, and her recipe also uses melted butter.

So, I decided to go with the basic proportions of the Not Without Salt cookie recipe, but with 6 ounces of oil and 1 ounce of water instead of the 8 ounces of butter. I used my own mixing method, based on the Cook’s Illustrated technique, and I used the baking temperature from the Pam Anderson recipe.

The resulting cookies were chunky and chewy. They tasted better a little underbaked–when fully browned they tended to get a bit too hard when cool.  The flavor was even better the day after they were baked. They remind me a little of Acme Supermarket Bakery cookies (which are made with canola oil, at least at the supermarket near me).

Update: these cookies taste even better two days after they were back, with a richer, more pronounced caramel flavor. The cookies that baked longer and were harder got softer from being stored in an airtight container with all the other cookies. Is it the little bit of turbinado sugar in the recipe that gives the amazing caramel flavor, or is it from the sugar being stirred well to dissolve better? Cook’s Illustrated claims that dissolving the sugar better before baking helps develop richer caramel flavors, so maybe that is it. All I know is that the brown sugar flavor is really intense and compensates for the lack of butter flavor.

Second Update: I have made these cookies with extra-large eggs and all dark brown sugar (instead of the mix of different sugars) and the batter is much looser and the cookies are much chewier and softer, even when baked the longer amount of time.