Everything that possibly could go wrong, did; In the space of about five minutes, the light bulb right above my head blew out in spectacular fashion, the garage door failed to open and was consequently holding the car hostage, and worst of all, the boiler in the basement decided to take a little siesta. Shivering through three layers of clothing, it suddenly hit me that it really shouldn’t be this cold inside… But if the heat isn’t working, it turns out that this temperature is perfectly appropriate. With a fresh layer of snow on the ground and a full day at home planned, it just figures, doesn’t it?
Bumbling about the kitchen in my full winter coat, there was one thing and one thing only on my mind: To keep warm! Mechanically going through the motions of starting up a pot of onions and other aromatics, I had no clue what I really wanted for lunch on such a spirit-dampening day, but it was bound to be warm, and that was good enough for me. Spices followed veggies, adding some heat to the flavor as well, and when the lentils finally joined the mix, I knew that this haphazard meal would really be just the thing I needed.
Somewhere between a soup and a stew, this hearty mix really helped put some color back into my frozen checks. A fairly simple, no-fuss affair, it’s nothing to call the papers about and write a rave review, but it simply hit the spot on that day when little else good was happening. Happily, it makes enough for a small army, so you can plan to save a good amount and reheat it for days to come, should time or energy be of the essence.
I did discover one good thing about having no heat, however- It makes it much easier to photograph the steam from hot foods!
Golden Lentil Stew
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Small/Medium Yellow Onions, Roughly Chopped (2 Cups)
2 Leeks, Roughly Chopped (2 Cups)
8 Stalks Celery, Diced (1 Cup)
4 – 6 Carrots, Diced (1 Cup)
2 Cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
2 Tablespoons Yellow Curry Powder
1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon Sweet Paprika
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
2 Cups Split Yellow Daal (Lentils)
1/2 Cup Uncooked White Rice
1 8-Ounce Can Tomato Sauce
2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
6 – 8 Cups Vegetable Stock, or More if Desired
1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
4 Cups Broccoli Florets, Par Cooked from Fresh or Frozen
1 Cup Frozen Peas
In a large stockpot over medium heat, get the oil nice and hot, and saute the onions, leeks, celery, carrots, and garlic, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, until the onions are translucent and all the veggies are tender. Add in the herbs and spices, and cook for another 10 minutes to let the flavors begin to mingle.
At this stage, you can go ahead and introduce your dry lentils and rice, as well as the tomato sauce, vinegar, and 6 cups of the vegetable stock. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the stew to simmer, adding in more stock if it threatens to dry out and burn, for about 1 hour, until the lentils are cooked through. Give it a taste, add in the salt and pepper, taste again, and adjust the seasonings if desired.
Toss in the frozen veggies, kill the heat, and just stir them through the mixture to thaw. Allow 5 minutes for this last round of veg to come up to temperature. Add in the remaining amount of stock if it’s too thick for your tastes, and even more if you’d prefer something soupier. Serve piping hot!
Makes 8 – 10+ Servings