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As vegetarians, sometimes we have a hard time finding good places to eat when we’re out.  One of our favourite places to eat out is at Cosi.  My husband likes to go on Tuesdays when they have their Moroccan Lentil Soup.  He loves it.  For this reason I have spent several months trying to find a recipe for lentil soup that was similar to theirs.

I had little luck.  After hours of searching and four different recipes we found a soup that we liked in theory.  I made several small changes and came up with our version of Moroccan Lentil Soup.  It is different from what they have at Cosi, but we really like it.  So does our friend, Eddie.

Moroccan Lentil Soup
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T turmeric
2 T cumin
1 t red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium bell pepper, diced
2 potatoes, diced
2 carrots, cut into shoestrings
2 potatoes
1 T tomato paste
1 c red lentils
1 c lentils
1/2 inch fresh ginger or 1 t ground ginger
4 c vegetable broth
4 c water
salt to taste

In a large sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add garlic, onions, and bell peppers.  Cook until onions are soft, being careful not to burn the garlic.  Add the cumin and turmeric.  Stir occasionally and allow spices to “bloom.”   Add 2 c broth and 2 c water.  Stir in red pepper flakes and ginger.  Bring liquid to a boil.  Add potatoes, carrots, and red lentils.  Boil for 20-30 minutes, or until lentils are soft.  Stir occasionally.  Add tomato paste and remaining broth and bring to a boil.  Add lentils.  Boil for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add salt to taste.

Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream if desired.

Two notes:
  Allowing the spices to bloom is the key to the flavour of this wonderful soup.
  Add salt at the last minute.  Adding salt while the lentils are cooking can lead to tough lentils.

I first made this recipe when my family was here for Christmas.  It was okay, but I felt like it still needed some work.  I added ingredients, adjusted the ratios of several ingredients, and made it again while Randall’s parents were here for the weekend.  This time it was nearly perfect.

Regular onions don’t tend to agree with Audra, so I use green onions instead.  Feel free to use a regular onion in yours.  I think a yellow onion would taste best.

Also, this time I used 4 cups of vegetable broth since I was feeding 4 1/2 people.  There was enough for all of us to have seconds.  I like it a little bit thicker, so when we don’t have company I’ll probably reduce the liquid a little bit.

Enjoy!

Roasted Poblano Corn Chowder
    1 large poblano peppers, washed, split and seeded
    1 Tablespoon olive oil
    2 green onions, diced
    2 clove garlic, diced
    2-3 button mushrooms
    2 Tablespoon butter
    3 Tablespoons flour
    1 teaspoon cumin
    pinch cayenne pepper
    1-2 medium potatoes, diced
    2-4 cups vegetable broth
    salt and pepper to taste
    2 cups frozen corn kernels (use fresh if seasonally available)
    1 can cream style corn
    12 oz evaporated skim milk or 1/2 & 1/2
    diced avocado (to garnish)
    shredded cheddar cheese (to garnish)

Place the peppers on a sheet pan and flatten with your hand. Broil until blistered and charred, taking care not to overcook the peppers. Poblanos are thinner-walled peppers and cannot withstand the blackening that bell peppers can. Remove from the pan and immediately place in a bowl. Cover with a plate or plastic wrap and allow to steam. After 15 minutes, peel and dice the peppers, set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a 4 quart sauce pan. Saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and stir for about a minute. Add mushrooms and continue sauteing for a minute.  Add the butter and flour and stir until the mixture is bubbly and colors slightly. Add the cumin and cayenne, stirring constantly to help the spices bloom. Add the broth, peppers and potatoes. Cook at a simmer until the potatoes are just tender. Add the corn kernels and cream style corn. Cook until the corn is heated through, then add the milk or cream. Heat until hot. Portion into bowls and sprinkle with the green tops of the onions, avocado and cheese if desired.

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