– One Superlative Pumpkin Dal Soup Recipe, from The Kitchen Diaries, by Nigel Slater –
I’m very excited to review a book by one of my all-time favorite food authors, British food writer Nigel Slater. In his newest US release, The Kitchen Diaries, Slater chronicles twelve months of cooking and eating, sharing every step of his simple, flavorful cooking style. Here you’ll find all sorts of recipes, from breakfasts to dinners to sides to desserts, and every one of them is worth making. I don’t say that very often about a cookbook.
Still haven’t made the vegetable soup I promised to make almost a week ago to clear out the vegetable rack. And now, where there is every opportunity to make a pan of creamy parsnip and carrot soup, I am distracted by half a dozen of the most meltingly ripe tomatoes on the vine, their skins ready to burst with juice. I slice them thickly, then toss them with black olives and pieces of thick toast torn into chunks and drizzles with unfiltered olive oil. No basil, no garlic, so seasoning; just the peppery rush of thick, green oil, ripe tomatoes, and black-edged toast.
I highly recommend The Kitchen Diaries to my readers.
- For the soup:
- 1 small onion
- 2 clovesgarlic
- 1 walnut-sized knob ginger
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons split red lentils
- 1 1/4 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 1 1/4 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 small pumpkin, about 3 pounds
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (or parsley, if you're cilantro-averse)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- For the onion topping:
- 2 medium onions
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil
- 2 small, hot chili peppers
- 2 cloves garlic
- Peel the onion and chop it roughly. Peel and crush the garlic and put it with the onion into a medium-sized, heavy-based saucepan. Peel the ginger, cut it into thin shreds and stir that in too. Add the lentils and pour in 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to an enthusiastic simmer. Stir in the ground turmeric and chili powder, sea- son and leave to simmer, covered, for twenty minutes.
- While the soup is cooking, bring a medium-sized pan of water to a boil. Peel the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and pulp, then cut the flesh into fat chunks. Boil the pumpkin pieces for ten minutes, until they are tender enough to pierce with a skewer without much pressure. Drain them and set them aside.
- To make the onion topping, peel the onions and cut them into thin rings. Cook them in the oil in a shallow pan until they start to color. Cut the chili peppers in half, scrape out the seeds and slice the flesh finely. Peel and finely slice the garlic and add it with the peppers to the onions. Continue cooking until the onions are a deep golden brown. Set aside.
- Remove the lid from the lentils and turn up the heat, boiling hard for five minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, then add the drained pumpkin. Puree the soup in a blender (for safety, a little at a time) until smooth, then pour it into a bowl. Stir in the roughly chopped cilantro and check the seasoning. I find this soup likes a more generous than usual amount of salt.
- Serve in deep bowls with a spoonful of the spiced onions on top.