I’m sitting enjoying the quiet evening knowing my vacation is over, and I will be returning to work tomorrow. I always feel a little bittersweet about going back to work after my Christmas vacation. On one hand, I like my job and the people I work with, so I’m looking forward to getting back to my routine. On the other hand, I’m sad that my winter rest is over. I never quite attain the same relaxed pace any other time of year. After Christmas, my life slows down, and I am more “in the moment” than I am for the rest of the year (no matter if I’m on vacation or not). I’m not sure exactly why. And, this year I was able to maintain a balance of rest, exercise, and entertainment that was nothing short of blissful.
I spent yesterday cleaning up Christmas decorations. I know I should leave them up until Epiphany, but I do like to start the year with a clean house, and Les was home to help me get the Christmas bins in the attic. I’ve put everything away and vacuumed the needles (Can anyone tell me why my fake Christmas tree has needles to vacuum??), and was reminiscing about my vacation. I was able to get in a couple of hikes, we went to a couple of movies, watched countless movies at home, and I was able to try out some new recipes, during my vacation. I made Spiced Tomato and Red Lentil Soup for dinner a couple of days after Christmas, and my whole family liked this soup (even my son). Les is always very complementary of my cooking, but after he ate two bowls of the soup he said, “I really, really like this soup.” High praise!
I will be adding this healthy soup to my menu rotation since my whole family likes it, and more importantly, will eat it. The original recipe gives the option of using Madras curry powder or garam masala. Since my daughter doesn’t like curry, I chose to use the garam masala (I love the flavor of garam masala, so I probably would have chosen it anyway). The recipe also calls for vegetable broth, but I had chicken broth on hand, so that's what I used. Spice Tomato and Red Lentil Soup is hearty and filling. The red lentils have a different, lighter flavor to me than green lentils, and I like them better. I served the soup with grilled cheese sandwiches, but you could serve it with salad or a nice loaf of whole grain bread to complete the meal.
I hope you have a Happy New Year!
Spiced Tomato and Red Lentil Soup
Adapted from Fine Cooking’s One Pot Meals
3 tablespoons oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 quarts low-salt vegetable or chicken broth (I used chicken broth)
2 14½ ounce can petite-diced tomatoes
1 pound (2½ cups) dried red lentils, picked over, rinsed and drained
2 medium celery ribs, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
2 medium cloves of garlic, chopped
¼ teaspoon cayenne
Heat the oil in a 6-quart or larger Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook until the onions are soft and just beginning to brown, stirring occasional. Add the garam masala and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Add the broth, tomatoes, lentils, celery, carrot, garlic, cayenne 1teaspoon kosher salt and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently, so the lentils don’t stick. Skim any foam. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, 35 to 40 minutes or until the lentils and vegetables are all tender. Check soup for seasoning, and add more salt if needed.
Serve with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and chopped cilantro to garnish.