Nothing says autumn like the sound of sniffly noses, hacking coughs and snot-shooting sneezes. Well, they do! So do roasted apples and pumpkin lattes, chanterelle mushrooms and Brussels sprout stalks. But when you feel as crappy as I have the last week (see aforementioned sounds), when you are so sick that you cannot brave the hail and the thunder and sideways rain to get to the store to ‘ooh and ahh’ at the season’s latest offerings, you make soup.
Which is exactly what I proceeded to do yesterday. Opening the produce drawer in my refrigerator didn’t elicit any immediate inspiration….an old cabbage quarter, someone’s forgotten lunch, some picked over pomegranates from a photo shoot at work….so I started rummaging through the cupboards…brown lentils… pomegranate molasses! I was onto something: lentil and vegetable stew with pomegranates.
I chopped the cabbage and some carrot sticks (from the forgotten lunch) and sautéed them in olive oil with garlic and sweet tomato paste. Onions would have been nice, but I didn’t have any. Rinsed lentils and frozen chicken stock simmered together with the aromatic vegetables until tender. A mere 25 minutes later (that’s pretty quick for stew!), I ladled the steaming lentils into bowls and drizzled them with the pomegranate molasses and some extra virgin olive oil. A sprinkling of ruby pomegranate arils and emerald cilantro made the otherwise homey-looking meal look exotic and inviting.
I could taste the sweet-tart molasses and rich olive oil even through my sniffles. I could feel the crunch of the cold pomegranates and the toothsome hot lentils, even though my tonsils were the size of gerbils in the back of my throat. It felt like fall.
Lentil Stew with Pomegranate
This stew can be made vegetarian/vegan by using water or vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock.
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cups chopped green or red cabbage
½ cup chopped carrot
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper, ground
½ cup lentils
32 ounces chicken stock
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
¼ cup pomegranate arils
Sweat the vegetables. Heat a medium saucepot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, cabbage, carrot, garlic, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent.
Simmer the soup. Add the lentils and chicken stock and simmer for 25 minutes, until the lentils are tender.
Garnish and serve. Stir the pomegranate molasses into the soup and taste for seasoning, adjusting if necessary. Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil (if using) and sprinkle with the chopped cilantro and pomegranate arils. Serve immediately. Store any ungarnished soup for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.