Sunday, February 8, 2009

Recipe File: Umami Soup

A crash course on umami, the fifth major taste sense (the others are sweet, sour, salty, and bitter). This soup is vegetarian, but cooks up delightfully hearty, and completely delicious. Serve with sour cream and flat bread, or over brown rice.

4-5 tbsp olive oil (you don't really need that much; I just put in extra fat for the calories)
3 cloves garlic
1 small onion (you can use less onion, also; sweet onion is better)
1 cup of mushrooms (the more the merrier!)
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 carrot, roughly grated
2 cups of stock (beef, chicken, or veggie)
1/2 cup of red lentils, rinsed
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, mashed (can also use a can of diced tomatoes)

Start by heating the olive oil over medium heat in a sauce pan. Add the onions and garlic and cook gently (i.e. don't let them burn like I always do). While you're letting the onions and garlic cook, combine the paprika, cumin, and coriander. You'll get the best flavor by using whole cumin and coriander seeds, toasting them, then grinding them together with the paprika (crushed red pepper or chili powder will also work, although paprika has a gentler flavor). When the onion has turned translucent, add the spices. The spices, onions, and garlic should mostly absorb the oil to form a rich, fragrant paste. After all that is well-mixed, add the veggies (celery, carrots, tomatoes, and mushrooms), the stock, and the lentils. Allow the soup to come to a boil, then back it off to a simmer. Cook until the lentils start to break up and the mushrooms are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Also, if the soup isn't tomato-y enough for you, you can add some tomato paste.

I never give measurements on spices, because I always kind of eyeball it. I would start with about a teaspoon of each spice cooked into the oil. You can always add more of one thing or another once it's simmering. It'll take some experimentation to figure out how you like it, anyway.

This recipe makes 3 servings (for me, anyway). For 3 servings, these are the (approximate) nutrition facts . . .

Calories: 403
Fat: 25 g
Carb: 32 g
Protein: 14 g
Sodium: 330 mg (not including salt)
Potassium: 792 mg

And you can always go here to figure out the nutrition facts for your recipe.