Red lentils always remind me of Esau, in the Bible, the book of Genesis. Esau was described as "red" and "hairy", and "a skillful hunter; a man of the open country". One day, when he came back to camp quite famished, after a long day of hunting, he sold his birthright (as the firstborn) to his brother Jacob, for...you guessed it...some bread and some lentil stew. Now, one of two possibilities exist; either:
a. Jacob was some kind of crazy-awesome chef, or
b. Esau did not appreciate the value of his birthright!
We know in fact, that the answer is b. The Bible states that Esau "despised" his birthright. It doesn't really tell us anything about Jacob's mad cooking skills, but I'm guessing he probably knew his way around a pot and an open fire.
Now as for me...thankfully, I did not have to use a pot over an open fire to cook my lentils...just a 6 qt slow cooker. And I'm not planning on selling my soup; I'm just going to eat it.
Unless someone offers me the right price...then I may consider selling. But you better hurry...it's almost gone already. :)
I started out to make "Turkey Sausage and Lentil Soup" from Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook, by the American Heart Association. I have loved most everything I've made out of this book. As long as I ignore all their "fat free" nonsense, and make my own decisions about ingredients. I would have to say that it's one of my favorite crock pot cookbooks, because they've won my heart with all the fresh veggies.
However, in the case of this recipe, I made so many BIG, and significant changes, that actually, what I made was not the same recipe at all. My major alterations include: using ground turkey instead of turkey sausage (and double the amount), using red lentils instead of brown, using fire roasted instead of regular canned tomatoes, I used dehydrated carrots and onions instead of fresh, and most significantly, I completely changed the spices and seasonings...and the preparation directions...and the cook time. So basically, it's a whole different recipe.
Here's my version, adapted from "Turkey Sausage and Lentil Soup", Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook.
Slow Cooker Size: 6qt.
Slow Cooking time: about 5 hrs. on low
Makes: A LOT, about 4 quarts
1 T. dehydrated onions (or one small or medium onion, diced)
1-2 T. dehydrated carrots (or 1/2 to 1cup fresh diced carrots)
4 c. Chicken Stock (homemade preferably, no salt)
4 c. water
1 lb. red lentils (sorted, rinsed, and soaked in water overnight--drain off soaking water, and rinse in a mesh strainer or colander before adding to soup.)
Combine above ingredients in 6 qt slow cooker, turn on low, and check in about 4 hrs. to see if lentils are soft. They should be quite soft in that amount of time, if they have been soaked overnight.)
When lentils are cooked, add in:
1 14.5 oz can Fire Roasted tomatoes (Muir Glen)
about 6 T. tomato paste
2 tsp Italian Seasoning
1 tsp Poultry Seasoning
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp of salt, to taste...may need more
1 lb. cooked ground turkey
Allow it to simmer as long as you want to combine flavors...about 1/2 hr to 1 hr? Don't go too long or your lentils will turn into mush, which is fine, but not quite as attractive.
Serve. Refrigerate leftover soup. It just keeps getting better in the fridge! The next day it will be even more flavorful and re-heats for a beautiful, filling, warming, satisfying lunch.
Here's what the T. of carrots looked like going in:
And here's what they looked like after cooking in the soup. Isn't it just like magic how they pop right back up? Dehydration never stops delighting me!
Regarding soaking lentils...most recipes I've seen do not call for pre-soaking. But I do it anyway. I have a sensitive tummy, and long pre-soaking of legumes helps me digest them better. I've had no digestive ill-effects from this lentil soup at all. But if you do not want to pre-soak you can just sort (for any shriveled lentils, stones, or other foreign objects), rinse, drain, and add to the pot. That will lengthen your cooking time. The original recipe says 8-10 hrs on low. However they also say to put the tomato products in during the cooking time, so that may be slowing it down too. I learned the hard way: it's best to wait until your legumes are fully cooked before adding in any tomato products! Tomatoes will slow, or even halt the cooking of your legumes.
Next time I make this soup I am going to add in some finely chopped spinach, or some of my home-dehydrated kale flakes. I think it will look pretty, not change the flavor really, and pump up the nutritional value of this soup. I think also I need to get some celery chopped up and tossed on the dehydrator. It's super-handy for tossing into soups as well. I will also be using 2 T of dehydrated carrots instead of 1 T.
Speaking of dehydrating carrots: I bought 7 more pounds of fresh, fragrant carrots at the farmers market yesterday. They are going on to the dehydrator today, as both slices (for soups all winter...I will peel and chop today, and reap the benefit of conveniently tossing in a few tablespoons of carrots, ready to go, all winter!) and I will also do "shreds" of carrot, for adding to meatballs, muffins, breads, wherever I can sneak them in. I just found a very helpful dehydration resource on the internet: www.easy-food-dehydrating.com. I will be using the instructions I found there to do the shreds--the page is linked for you right here. I was wondering how I was going to pre-treat those tiny shreds...I couldn't imagine blanching such small pieces of carrot. The video I linked answers that question...toss shreds in a bowl with a bit of lemon juice, then dehydrate on fruit roll tray covers. Easy!
Wasn't this a simple soup to make? I loved it, and it's going to go into the winter rotation around here. No need to sell your birthright when this soup is so easy to make yourself! Enjoy.