creamy mixed lentil soup

creamy mixed lentil soup | A Brown Table

There are a couple of things you get used to eating all the time if you grew up in an Indian household, one of them being lentils. We eat a lot of lentils, black, green, yellow, orange, red etc. And though the names might not really match the color, for example the red lentils look orange to me, they are still one of the most popular and affordable source of protein in India. They're also pretty easy and fast to cook which adds to their attractiveness.

This lentil soup is one of the easiest to make and it's also one of the creamiest versions you'll try! It's got the texture of silky bisque and I've used Califia's unsweetened almond milk creamer to give the soup its characteristic body and "richness". The base of the soup is seasoned with aromatics and flavored with cloves and bay leaves. And though this isn't a "hot" soup you can easily bump up the heat levels by adding your favorite hot sauce in the desired amount. To give this lentil soup a little freshness,  I've garnished it with fresh cilantro and lemon zest and a generous drizzle of a fruity extra virgin olive oil.

 

creamy mixed lentil soup | A Brown Table
creamy mixed lentil soup | A Brown Table
creamy mixed lentil soup | A Brown Table
creamy mixed lentil soup | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this soup;

  • I use black and red lentils for this soup but you could also substitute green/beluga lentils. 
  • You can make this soup a little hot by adding a little hot sauce if desired.
  • Adjust the consistency of the soup as needed using water after blending. 
  • Califia's new line of creamers have made it possible to create that silky smooth and creamy bisque like texture in this soup. If you want the soup a little creamier, then I recommend playing around with the ratios of the lentil soup base, the water and the creamer. Don't forget to taste and season as you proceed.
creamy mixed lentil soup | A Brown Table

creamy mixed lentil soup

yields: 4 servings

ingredients

1/2 cup red lentils

1/2 cup black lentils

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup diced red onion

5 whole cloves

2 large bay leaves

1 teaspoon minced garlic clove

1 teaspoon ginger root cut into 1 inch strips

1 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup Califia almond milk creamer (unsweetened)

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves chopped

1 tablespoon lemon zest

4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil for garnish

1. Clean and rinse the lentils. Keep aside until ready to use.

2. Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized thick bottomed saucepan on medium-high heat. Sauté the onions for about 2 to 3 minutes until light pink. Add the cloves, bay leaves, garlic cloves and ginger and cook for 1 additional minute with occasional stirring. Then add the salt, black pepper and turmeric and cook for 30 seconds. Add the lentils and water and increase the heat to high, bring the contents of the saucepan to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for about 30 minutes until the lentils are soft and tender. Once the lentils are cooked, remove and discard the bay leaves. 

3. Transfer the contents of the saucepan to a blender. Add the Califia creamer to the blender and blend until smooth and creamy. If the mixture is too thick add a little more water and blend until you get the desired consistency. 

4. Transfer the soup from the blender to the saucepan and keep warm. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. To serve, garnish each serving of the soup with the lemon zest and cilantro leaves and a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. 

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Califia Farms. All opinions expressed are purely my own.

3 spice leek and potato soup

3 spice leek and potato soup | A Brown Table

Hello 2016! I hope you guys had a fun and relaxing holiday. The East coast was warmer than the West Coast and there were days that I spent outside in shorts.  I even heard that it might have snowed in San Francisco for a few minutes (not sure about this) but the way things have been I wouldn't be surprised. We visited Monticello and took a tour of Thomas Jefferson's plantation, it's worth the trip if you haven't been there. 

The oddest thing happened after we got home. There are potatoes growing in my backyard! I never planted them and I can only assume that the previous owners had something to do with that. Unfortunately, they were too small for me to use so I'll have to wait a little longer before I'll get to cook them. Potatoes are comfort food at its best and if paired well, in soups they are delicious! Leeks and potatoes are perhaps one of the best combinations that exist in savory heaven. This leek and potato soup, takes full advantage of these amazing ingredients along with a couple of other special spices. A dash of turmeric and coriander in this potato and leek soup along with a sautéed topping of thinly sliced leeks and nigella seeds. To make the soup as smooth as possible, I used my "KitchenAid Torrent blender. The high horsepower of this blender helps to grind all the ingredients in the soup to a smooth and creamy consistency. Plus, there's a soup setting which makes life much easier and takes a lot of the guesswork out.

The three spices add three different levels of flavor to the leek and potatoes in the soup. Coriander imparts a smoky flavor while turmeric brightens the taste and color of the soup. The leeks get a delicious nutty flavor from the tiny black nigella seeds as they are sautéed in the ghee/oil. This is my Indian-inspired take on this classic dish!!

3 spice leek and potato soup | A Brown Table
3 spice leek and potato soup | A Brown Table
3 spice leek and potato soup | A Brown Table
3 spice leek and potato soup | A Brown Table
3 spice leek and potato soup | A Brown Table
3 spice leek and potato soup | A Brown Table
3 spice leek and potato soup | A Brown Table
3 spice leek and potato soup | A Brown Table
3 spice leek and potato soup | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen notes that you might find useful when preparing this soup;

  • Note that I have not given a specific amount of salt and pepper in this recipe. If you use a low sodium/salt stock then you will need to season the soup a little more. Start with less and then adjust the amount as needed.
  • Use floury potatoes over waxy potatoes when making this soup. Diced potatoes cook faster than larger pieces which will also cut down your cooking time. 
  • When you blend the soup, you need a blender that's powerful and KitchenAid's magnetic Torrent blender is perfect! You will get a creamy soup that has a silky texture.
3 spice leek and potato soup | A Brown Table

3 spice leek and potato soup

yields: 4 servings

ingredients

4 tablespoons ghee/extra virgin olive oil

4 cups thinly sliced leeks (about 2 whole leeks)

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon coriander seeds, whole

1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes

300 gm potatoes, peeled and diced into 0.5" cubes

1 quart vegetable stock

salt and pepper to season (see notes above)

1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1 teaspoon nigella seeds, whole

1. Heat two tablespoons of the ghee/oil in a medium-sized stockpot on medium-heat. When the ghee/oil is hot, add 2 cups of the sliced leeks and cook them until they just start to get lightly browned. This should take about 4 minutes. Add the turmeric, coriander and chili pepper flakes and cook for another 30 seconds. Then add the potatoes and cook for 60 seconds. Stir in the stock and then increase the heat to high. Bring the contents of the stockpot to a rolling boil and reduce the heat to a low. Cook until the potatoes are tender and soft about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from stove.

2. Carefully, transfer the contents of the stockpot to the blender and pulse on the soup setting until the program is complete. The soup will be smooth in texture once the cycle is completed. Alternatively, pulse until completely smooth. Transfer the soup back to the stockpot and allow to simmer. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

3. To prepare the topping for the soup, heat heat the remaining two tablespoons of ghee/olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan and sauté the leeks with the salt for about 5 to 6 minutes until they turn golden brown. Add the nigella seeds and cook for 1 minute. Top each serving of hot soup with a generous amount of the sautéed leeks and nigella and a light drizzle of olive oil.

Disclaimer: A big thank you to KitchenAid for sponsoring this post. All opinions expressed are solely my own. 

chilled avocado and lime coconut-almond milk soup

chilled avocado and lime soup | A Brown Table

Random, can't begin to describe it. But the little dinner we celebrated with our friends after our court marriage, somehow landed up as a photograph in the March 2015 issue of Travel and Leisure. Come to think of it now, I vaguely remember seeing a photographer at the restaurant but didn't pay much attention. 

It's been way too hot the past few days. The interesting thing here in this part of California, we have fireplaces but no cooling systems in most homes. While it's generally cool and sunny for the most part of the year, at this time we do get a lot of heat and it can be bad. It's hot enough, that I plan to start my mornings at work making large batches of whipped cream for any fresh cream cakes because the cream can collapse fast in warm weather. Frosting cakes can be a nightmare in hot summer weather but there are advantages to the heat when it comes to cooking. Fermentation, for one is thankful for the heat in most kitchens. Your yeast will grow fast and break sugars down and your doughs etc will be quick to rise. 

I tend to lose my appetite and desire for heavy meals in summer especially at lunch. To cool off, I've been drinking this chilled soup that's full of cooling ingredients, from the coconut milk in Califia's unsweetened almond-coconut milk blend, to the greener ingredients that go into this dish. It's rather easy to make and you can adjust the levels of spiciness by removing the seeds from the pepper to make it less intense. The soup itself is creamy and velvety and refreshing with the acidity of fresh lime juice and dill. Now, that's one tasty way to stay cool, folks!

chilled avocado and lime soup | A Brown Table
chilled avocado and lime soup | A Brown Table
chilled avocado and lime soup | A Brown Table
chilled avocado and lime soup | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this soup;

  • You can adjust the thickness of the soup by adding more or less almond-coconut milk.
  • I also like to serve this soup with a corn salsa or a sweet fruity salsa made with pineapple or mango. It also makes a great side to along with seafood at a meal.
  • Instead of dill you could also use cilantro. 
  • Warm the lime to room temperature if you store it in the refrigerator. It's easier to juice this way. You can also press the lime and roll it gently across the table to make it easy to juice. 

You might like some of these other summer recipes to stay cool with!

chilled avocado and lime soup | A Brown Table

chilled avocado and lime almond-coconut milk soup

yields: 2 servings

ingredients 

1 haas avocado, ripe yet firm 

1 lime, fresh

2 cups Califia unsweetened coconut-almond milk blend 

1 green thai chili pepper

1 teaspoon dill leaves, fresh + extra for garnishing

1/2 teaspoon white pepper, powder

1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1. Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit from the center and discard. Cube the avocado meat and place it in a blender. Squeeze the lime juice over the avocado, Califia milk along with the dill leaves, the chili pepper, white pepper, salt and hot sauce. Blend to get a smooth and creamy consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.

2. Transfer the soup to a container and store in an airtight container for two hours to chill completely. 

3. To serve, quickly stir the soup a few times and then pour it into chilled glasses and garnish with the extra fresh dill leaves. 

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Califia and all opinions stated here are purely my own.

 

green goddess rasam

Green Goddess Rasam | A Brown Table

I'm back after a wonderful and much needed vacation in India. Though I wish it were longer, two weeks was definitely too short of a time to spend with my family and visit Bombay and Goa. Still we managed to get quite a bit of sight seeing done between two weddings and celebrations.  It should also go without saying that this vacation involved a lot of eating. There were Christmas sweets and treats my mom had prepared plus all the restaurants we tried out, then the food at all the different celebrations, the list goes on. Though, I've shared some of my photographs on Instagram, I'll be writing more about my trip, tips and experiences on both these lovely cities in the upcoming weeks.

Green Goddess Rasam | A Brown Table

There were three things my body craved for as soon as we got back from India, the first being sleep (the jet lag is intense), the second warm weather (winter in Bombay and Goa is around 80+ degree F) and the third, lighter meals. One of my favorite South Indian soups is rasam (pronounced rus-um), which can best be described as a spiced, fiery peppery broth that is rather light yet wholesome. Rasam is considered by some to having a healing touch when it comes to colds and it is one of my favorite soups to enjoy during the cold days of winter. It is also the perfect soup to eat after a 22 hour-long flight.

Green Goddess Rasam | A Brown Table
Green Goddess Rasam | A Brown Table
Instead of going with the traditional tomato based recipe that makes a reddish-brown colored rasam, I've changed things up here a bit and taken several liberties along with a little inspiration from a rasam dish we tried at Jigg Kalra's modern Indian restaurant Masala Library in Bombay and from Bon Appétit's Green Goddess dressing . The end result is a light lentil broth that's full of spicy heat and fresh herb flavors, making it one refreshing soup!
Green Goddess Rasam | A Brown Table
Green Goddess Rasam | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips while preparing this soup;

  • I used split red lentils because they are quick and easy to cook but you can use the traditional split yellow pigeon peas (toor dal) in the same amount.
  • 20 peppercorns might seem a lot but it gives this soup its characteristic fiery taste. I've added a Serrano pepper here for heat but if you prefer a hotter green chili, add it. If you like it less hot, remove the seeds and only use the pepper. 
  • *Mustard greens can be replaced with spinach and the cilantro with parsley. 
  • If you can't find tamarind paste, you can use 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice.
  • This soup will get darker as it ages or if it is heated. The chlorophyll pigment in the greens gets dark when exposed to air or heat which is why I add the green paste towards the end after the broth base has cooled down a little. I also serve this soup immediately as soon as it is prepared to keep it as brightly green as possible. 
Green Goddess Rasam | A Brown Table

green goddess rasam

serves: 6-8

ingredients

20 black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

3/4 cup split red lentils (masoor dal), cleaned and washed

8 cups water, at room temperature

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon tamarind paste (you might need to add a little more)

2 cups packed mustard green leaves (mid rib removed and discarded), fresh* 

1 bunch cilantro leaves, fresh*

1/4 cup packed tarragon leaves, fresh

6 scallions, fresh (both white and green parts to be used, trim and discard the root end)

1 large (about 2 tablespoons chopped) serrano chili pepper, chopped (if you prefer less hot, remove the seeds) 

2 cloves (about 3 tablespoons) garlic, peeled and minced

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher sea salt

4 tablespoons neutral tasting vegetable oil (you can use olive oil)

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

4 dried Kashmiri chilis (about 1 inch in length)

6 curry leaves (fresh or dried)

1. Grind the peppercorns, cumin and coriander seeds to form a coarse powder using mortar and pestle or a spice/coffee bean grinder. 

2. Add the ground spices along with the turmeric, lentils and water to a large thick-bottomed stock pot. Heat on a high flame and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the flame to a medium-high and cook for about 10 minutes or until the lentils are soft and translucent. Take about 1/2 cup of the liquid and mix it with the tomato paste and tamarind to form a slurry. Transfer this slurry back into the stockpot and stir to combine. Cook for one minute, remove from stove and keep the broth aside and allow to cool for 10 minutes before adding the green paste (prepared in step 3).

3. Place all the ingredients from the mustard greens to the garlic cloves, along with 1/2 cup of the broth (avoid adding the lentils from the broth) in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until you get a smooth paste. Stir this paste into the warm lentil broth. Add the salt and taste, adjust seasoning if necessary (you might need to add a little more salt or tamarind).

4. Heat the oil in small saucepan or skillet on medium-high. As soon as the oil is hot (after about 45-60 seconds) add the mustard seeds and heat until they begin to sputter. Once the seeds start to sputter, add the chilis and the curry leaves and heat for another 10-12 seconds, they will puff up and darken a little. Immediately remove and pour this hot mixture over the soup. Serve the soup immediately in bowls. You can also serve this with plain rice on the side.

guest post: dolly and oatmeal coriander roasted cauliflower tahini soup

guest post by @dollyandoatmeal coriander roasted cauliflower tahini soup

This is the last of the guest posts while I'm away and it's from one of the nicest people I have the pleasure of knowing! You've probably already heard of Lindsey's gorgeous blog, Dolly and Oatmeal. Lindsey is one of the friendliest and affable bloggers that I know, her writing and food exude warmth and it's hard not to fall in love with her work. She comes up with some of the most creative recipes that will make you hungry and going back for me. Here's Lindsey with this lovely coriander roasted cauliflower soup!

guest post by @dollyandoatmeal coriander roasted cauliflower tahini soup

As an avid fan of Nik's photography and recipes here on A Brown Table, I am super excited to be a guest blogger today! I always recognize Nik's infamous images each time i scroll through my Pinterest or Instagram feed, by his evocative, low-light captures.  I remember the first time i became familiar with Nik's work i was instantly taken with the movement and flow in his photos, and then there was a just as lovely recipe to go along with it. His encouraging step-by-step tutorials always leave me with a sense of ease as i feel his recipes are elevated but accessible. So, while i'm here, I will endeavor to incorporate some of the things I love about Nik's work, which is interesting flavor combinations and engaging photography.  

guest post by @dollyandoatmeal coriander roasted cauliflower tahini soup
guest post by @dollyandoatmeal coriander roasted cauliflower tahini soup
guest post by @dollyandoatmeal coriander roasted cauliflower tahini soup

In that spirit, and the spirit of a happy + healthy new year, I bring you this coriander-roasted cauliflower soup, with tahini.  tahini, in soup? Yes! It's a really awesome way to incorporate a subtle nutty flavor along with adding a creamier (non-dairy) consistency.  we've added some satsuma juice for a bit of sweet acidity, and pomegranate seeds for garnish because I love the pop of tart, juicy flavor paired with a savory dish like this. After the heaviness of the holidays this soup is a nice nudge to a slower, and hopefully more calm month. january, and the new year, have a feeling of revival and renewal; and setting off the year in a positive direction, so, my hope is that this soup can provide you with a sense of that as well!

guest post by @dollyandoatmeal coriander roasted cauliflower tahini soup
guest post by @dollyandoatmeal coriander roasted cauliflower tahini soup
guest post by @dollyandoatmeal coriander roasted cauliflower tahini soup
guest post by @dollyandoatmeal coriander roasted cauliflower tahini soup

coriander roasted cauliflower + tahini soup (v + gf)

serves 4 |

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower (about 1lb.)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and crushed; divided
  • course sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 large leeks, white and light green parts sliced thin
  • 5 small garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves, plus more to serve
  • 1 quart low-sodium vegetable broth (or 4 cups water)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup light tahini paste
  • juice from 2 satsumas or 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds, to serve

instructions

  • preheat oven to 375° and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  set aside.  in a large bowl, toss together the cauliflower florets, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, salt + pepper, and olive oil.  turn out onto baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes, until slightly tender and browned.
  • in a large soup pot, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  add the leeks and cook for 4-5 minutes, until tender.  add crushed garlic, remaining coriander, cumin, and thyme; cook 2-3 minutes, until garlic is fragrant.  add the roasted cauliflower and stock, and bring to a simmer.  cover pot and cook for 20-25 minutes, until cauliflower is very tender.  remove from heat for 10 minutes before pureeing
  • stir in tahini paste; in batches, puree soup in a blender or food processor until very smooth.  return soup to pot and add satsuma juice; taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  serve soup hot, and garnish with a handful of pomegranate seeds, thyme leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.

enjoy!

sweet potato soup with cauliflower croutons

Sweet Potato Soup with Cauliflower Croutons | A Brown Table @abrowntable

With Thanksgiving around the corner, things start to get busy. It's the same theme every year, there's the excitement of the holiday and the food but the anxiousness of the impending crazy that might rear its ugly head. A good example of this is shopping during the holidays, it's drives me absolutely nuts, it tests my patience and I hope makes me a better person for weathering through it. Don't get me wrong, I love going to stores at this time of the year, they're all gorgeously decorated for Christmas (those ornaments keep popping up earlier and earlier, each year!) and there are a lot of fun things to try (new holiday flavored teas at one of my favorite tea stores) and the strollers, yes the strollers! Strollers make nervous, they keep getting wider and larger with time, they can even take up entire sidewalks but in a mall that's already packed they can become a tool of danger. While trying on a couple of pairs of sneakers, I had two encounters within a short span of time, the first involved a bump to the head and the second, my toes. I'm going to go with the notion that these could be considered "war wounds" of the holiday season and a reason why I prefer to shop online during the holidays! What do you prefer, online or in-store? 

Sweet Potato Soup with Cauliflower Croutons | A Brown Table @abrowntableSweet Potato Soup with Cauliflower Croutons | A Brown Table @abrowntable

Let's talk about holiday meals and ingredients, though I love both of them, I love sweet potatoes a little more than pumpkins. They are simply perfect, I always get a slice of sweet potato pie at Thanksgiving and if I can manage, there'll even be a pie after the holiday. But sweet potatoes also make wonderful savory dishes and I can never have enough!  So when the folks at The Society asked me to share a Thanksgiving recipe at their site, I knew I'd be giving a shoutout to my favorite tuber with this simple and easy soup that's served with some Indian-inspired cauliflower croutons. The sweet potato soup is lightly flavored with coriander with a smooth and velvety texture. It helps take the craziness away and comforts and calms. So go ahead and make yourself some soup,  the recipe is available here!

Sweet Potato Soup with Cauliflower Croutons | A Brown Table @abrowntableSweet Potato Soup with Cauliflower Croutons | A Brown Table @abrowntable
Sweet Potato Soup with Cauliflower Croutons | A Brown Table @abrowntable