I have been recovering all week from jet lag – or what appears to be jet lag. More likely, I am recovering from two amazing weeks in Spain, and four months of being on the road constantly, smiling, highly functioning, and over-stimulated. While I am missing the cobblestones streets, smells, companionship, romantic excitement and general pace of life (and riding bikes) in Spain, I am finding great joy in sleeping in, watching the photographs of friends streaming in as they wrap up travels in southern Spain, France, Morocco, and retreating to my kitchen to expend the backpack of recipes, inspiration, and ingredients that I brought through customs.
It has been rainy as can be in Portland so our world-class bounty is still rife with excellent specimens of herbs, vegetables, gourds and fruits ripe for the picking and eating. Enough that I returned home from our remote garden with baggies and baggies of herbs, baskets full of pumpkins, and chilled to the bone from hunting ingredients in the rain.
This marvelous stew was a beautiful accident – it was certainly the product of being chilly and knowing that this means soup + bread + wine + wool socks. But also it is an edible, real-life painting of all the flavors and colors and adventures that are floating about in my head, and a perfect use for too many roasted pumpkins.
This particular dish was a perfect, and conscious opportunity to use the first ingredient in my backpack – sweet Spanish paprika or pimenton. The pastries, dates, raisins, and chocolate covered figs that I scooped up from La Boqueria in Barcelona were devoured before I boarded the plane, but this little tin was destined for my kitchen back home. Paprika is a staple in many of the characteristic dishes in Spain – everything from egg tortillas to chorizo receives a sprinkling so, it is only natural that in attempting to relive the country I would toss some into the pot along with my ras al hanout.
There are a myriad of vegetables that could be tossed into this soup to beef it up. Regardless of those that you choose, the base remains gluten-free and vegan, packed full of protein thanks to lentils, and pumped with potassium and vitamins C and E….perfect food for recovering from long, hilly rides in the Spanish countryside and late nights dancing. (Or trail runs out my back door at home.) We increased these residual benefits by indulging in a hot pan of Quinoa + Superpower Skillet Bread, and a nice rioja. Enjoy! – xo L
- 2 lbs pumpkin, canned or home-pureed**
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1/2 cup red lentils
- 1 liter vegetable broth, water, or a combination of both
- 2 tsp ras al hanout*
- 2 tsp Spanish pimenton*
- 2 oranges, zest and juice
- 1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped roughly
- 2 tomatoes, chopped roughly
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp coriander (to garnish)
- s + p, and sriracha sauce to taste
- In a large stockpot, warm the olive oil and add the onions and garlic. Saute until translucent. Add the ras al hanout and pimenton and coat the onions. Then, add the lentils and toss with the cooked onion mixture until coated with spices. Add the pumpkin puree and vegetable broth and stir the mixture well. Bring the soup to simmer and allow to cook for 20-25 minutes, until the lentils are cooked through. Halfway through, add the kale. When the lentils are fully cooked, remove the soup from heat and add the tomatoes, orange juice and zest, and flavor with salt, pepper, and sriracha. Serve immediately garnished with coriander. Soup will keep up to three days refrigerated.
- *Ras al Hanout and pimenton can usually be found at your local purveyor of fine foods. Or at World Spice at Pike's Place Market - http://www.worldspice.com
- **To home puree your own pumpkin, find a lovely pumpkin at your favorite purveyor (preferably sugar pumpkin) and slice off the top. Seed and scoop out the pumpkin as if you were going to turn it into a jack-o-lantern. Warm your oven to 350F degrees and lightly oil a pie pan or baking sheet. Slice the pumpkin in half and sprinkle the flesh with sea salt. Bake until the flesh can be pierced with a knife. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before scooping out the flesh (discarding the skin,) and pureeing the cooked pumpkin until smooth. For this soup recipe I processed with a smidge of cinnamon and nutmeg.