I swear I’m not crazy. Last week, when we had unseasonal temperatures in the 60’s and overcast skies, this lentil soup was just the ticket. More recently, with temperatures back in the mid-90’s, I’m overheating just thinking about soup. So this post will be brief.
I was mostly looking for something I could make from pantry staples to use up some freshly made chicken stock. Jeremy picked lentils out of the options I ticked off, and I wanted to track down something a bit out of the ordinary. The soup itself is pretty basic: the smoked paprika and even the carrots were additions of mine. The thing that makes it special is the walnut cream garnish, which adds depth and richness. The walnut cream is also very similar to the salsa di noci we like on rotini, and I used some of the extra for just that the next day.
Lentil Soup With Pounded Walnuts and Cream
2 C brown lentils
2 to 4 T butter
1 onion, finely diced
2 carrots, cut into small dice
1 bay leaf
1 tsp smoked paprika
6 C vegetable or chicken stock (or water)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large garlic cloves, pan-roasted*
2/3 C lightly toasted walnuts
1/2 C ricotta
2 T heavy cream
Flax oil for garnish, optional
Soak the lentils in water for 2 hours, then drain.
Melt the butter in a large pot over low heat. Add the onion, carrot, and bay leaf. Sauté over medium-high heat until onion is translucent and carrots are tender, about 5 minutes. Add lentils, stock, smoked paprika and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer, covered, until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Using a food processor, grind together the garlic with the walnuts and a large pinch of salt. Add the cream and ricotta, and process until a smooth paste is formed.
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top each with a large spoonful of walnut cream, a sprinkle of smoked paprika and, if desired, a drizzle of flax oil. Serves 4 to 6.
Source: Adapted from New York Times; originally from “Vegetable Soups,” by Deborah Madison.