I had it all worked out in my head (and on paper). This was going to be a “welcome to my new blog!” post, but, as life and delays will happen, we’re not quite there yet. So, in honor of my almost new blog, (I realized, much too late, that I probably should have made a leek recipe of some sort, huh?) Well, I don’t like to be predictable (read: didn’t actually occur to me), so instead I offer you roasted carrot soup. Scratch that. It’s actually charred carrot soup and oh my lord was it good.
I got the idea to push the roasting of the carrots (and onions, too) from a memoir I’m reading called Day of Honey by Annia Ciezaldo. Annia travels from New York to the Middle East with her Lebanese husband and immerses herself in the discovery and understanding of the local food cultures. A fantastically written and engaging book. I’m barely on page 111 and it’s seems like she’s lived several lifetimes.
In the book she writes about how Lebanese cooks make a dish called Mjadara. When making this dish, the cook caramelizes the onions so deeply that they are on the verge of charring. She says, “look away for just one moment, and it burns…” Pushing the caramelization takes this simple peasant dish to another flavor level. It turns it into something you think about days later. Something you crave.
As I was roasting my carrots and onions, I thought about that passage and decided to let them roast longer than the original recipe intended. I roasted them until they were charred and tender (but not burnt!) and until the whole apartment smelled of fall. It did not disappoint. I found the char on the carrots helped balance the sweetness of the caramelization. The smoked paprika grounded and added depth the stew. The bonus is that this stew is simple to make and versatile.
Maybe I’ll attempt Mjarda next time. Or perhaps leek soup :)
Roasted Carrot and Red Lentil Stew with Sage Biscuits
Adapted from Amanda Hesser’s Essential New York Times Cookbook
What you’ll need~
For the stew:
1 1/2-2 lbs carrots
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 onion, roughly chopped
1-2 teaspoons smoked Spanish Paprika, more or less to your liking
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
5 cups chicken broth
Heat your oven to 450°.
Place the carrots on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan.
Toss with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil.
Sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and a grind or two of black pepper
Roast for about 20-30 minutes.
Add the chopped onions and roast for another 15 to 25 minutes, depending on how charred you’d like it.
Remove the pan from the oven and, when the carrots are cool enough to handle, dice in 1/4 inch chunks.
Heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan and add the carrots and onions and paprika.
Stir for about a minute.
Add the lentils and broth and bring to a simmer.
Stir occasionally for about 25 minutes. Until the lentils are very soft and start to fall apart.
Season with more salt and pepper to taste.
For the biscuits:
I must have been tired when I read this recipe because I accidentally flipped the baking powder and baking soda quantities. I salvaged it as much as I could, but the biscuits tasted more like Irish soda bread than biscuits. Adam loved them, by the way.
What you’ll need:
2 cups spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut in to 1/2 cubes
1/4-1/2 cup fresh sage, chopped
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
Heat your oven to 450°.
Sift the flour, baking powder, soda and salt into a large bowl.
Add the butter and using your hands, smash it and blend it into the mixture until it becomes crumbly.
Stir in the sage and the buttermilk just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
Lightly flour a work surface.
Flour your hands and form the dough into a ball.
Press the dough in to a square that’s about 1/2 inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter, cut out dough and transfer to a baking sheet.
Brush the top with your melted butter and bake until golden.
About 12-14 minutes.