Cumin-Mania!

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Day 27: Favorite herb or spice?

You’d think this prompt would inspire my typical “BUT I CAN’T CHOOSE A FAVORITE!” panic, but it doesn’t! Happily, one spice pushed its way forward without me even giving the question much thought: cumin! I love cumin because of its versatility. It pairs well with so many other spices, and it’s an essential component of lots of flavor profiles. Just imagine taco seasoning or a curry paste without cumin — it’s too crazy to contemplate (regional variants notwithstanding)! A quick search of my blog using the “cumin” keyword reveals lots of mentions throughout the years; I guess I chose wisely! For example, this red lentil soup wouldn’t be the same without cumin.

Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Soup

Hmm… I should’ve called that a stew, not a soup! It’s so thick. Delicious either way, though.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to figure out a way to incorporate cumin into tonight’s dinner!

Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Soup

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11 days into Vegan MoFo and I’ve yet to feature a soup. Shocking! That oversight gets remedied today with a hearty tomato-y red lentil soup that couldn’t be easier to throw together. This ain’t your typical red lentil soup, though—the addition of quinoa not only boosts the nutritional profile, but adds a textural counterpoint to the softer lentils.

This soup is versatile, too. Yellow potatoes could easily stand in for the sweet potatoes, and diced carrots would make a fine addition. If you don’t have quinoa, I suppoooose you could leave it out. And if you prefer a creamier, richer soup, just add some full-fat coconut milk towards the end of cooking. That kiss of lemon juice added at the end is non-negotiable, though. Trust me, you’ll want to keep it.

Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Soup

Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Soup
Serves six

  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2″ knob ginger, minced
  • 1-2 T your favorite curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 3 small sweet potatoes, chopped into small chunks
  • 3 C water
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce (or puree)
  • 2 C red lentils
  • 1/2 C quinoa
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Diced scallions or chopped cilantro for serving

In a large stockpot, heat the coconut oil over medium heat and sauté the garlic for 30 seconds or so. Add onion and ginger and sauté for another 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add spices and sweet potatoes and stir until the sweet potatoes are well-coated. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, red lentils, quinoa, and two cups of the water and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and let simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are fully cooked and the lentils are soft. Check every 10 minutes and add extra water in half cupfuls if necessary.

When the sweet potatoes and lentils are fully cooked, turn off the heat and add salt and pepper as desired. Stir in most of the lemon juice, reserving some for serving. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with the leftover lemon juice, freshly ground pepper, and diced scallions or chopped cilantro.

Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Soup

Red lentils boast an impressive nutritional makeup, and this soup adds a few other key ingredients to nourish you. One serving offers 24% of your daily value of iron and 17 grams of protein… but you might not want to have just one serving.

What’s your go-to soup recipe?