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We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other. - E.H.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mushroom and lentil soup with horseradish cream

Someone told me once that in the spring, summer and winter are wrestling each other for control, and that pretty much explains the weather around here these days. Take today - pretty much, it's summer. People are walking around in shorts and t-shirts, crocuses are poking up on the lawn and we just hung our laundry outside for the first time in the season. It's beautiful.

But that's today. On Monday, it was a blizzard. And that's when I made this soup. It was a hearty soup kind of a day then. The combination of dried and fresh mushrooms give the soup a deep, rich flavour, and the lentils make it earthy and filling and cheap enough to feed an army with.

But the soup is not really the point here. Vegan horseradish cream  is the point. Drizzled on top of the soup, it contrasts the rich earthy flavours of the soup with a tangy heat and adds a certain wow factor that I don't usually associate with lentil soup (and don't get me wrong, I love lentil soup.) And it's really pretty, which is important when one is trying to woo one's new vegan roommates.

You'll need:

For the soup

2 tbsp olive oil
5 small carrots, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups button mushrooms (or something fancier, but I only had button)
1 cup dried mushrooms (the polish kind are best. I have no idea what kind they are, but they have a wonderful forest-y taste)
1/4 tsp dried thyme or a few sprigs fresh
1 3/4 cups dried brown lentils
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste

For the horseradish creme

2 tablespoons horseradish
1 tablespoon coconut cream

1. Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover them with 2 cups of hot water. Leave them to soften.

2. Finely chop the onion, mushrooms and carrots. In a large pot saute the carrots, onion and garlic in olive oil until they begin to get soft. Add the diced fresh mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are softened and browning, 5-8 minutes.

3. Add the dried mushrooms and almost all the water you soaked them in. Leave the water in the very bottom of the bowl, which tends to be a bit gritty.

4. Add an additional 5 cups of water, the lentils and the thyme. Partially cover and allow it to simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. Add the sesame oil at the end.

5. While the soup is simmering, combine the horseradish and coconut cream and mix well.

6. Drizzle the horseradish cream on top of the soup and garnish (if you have it, which I didn't) with a sprig of thyme. Your boyfriend/girlfriend/best friend/grandmother will be duly impressed.

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