One of the things that people love about living in Mexico City is the weather. The winters are not very cold, springtime is full of flowers, summer is tolerably hot, and autumn will ask you for just a light sweater. Or so it used to be. Nowadays we get crazy weather just like the rest of the world, with winters that freeze crops and insufferable sweaty summers. But in spite of the weather going haywire everywhere in the world, one thing here in our crazy valley remains a constant: summer rain. Almost every summer afternoon, you can count on a heavy shower, that will be over before it’s time to go to bed. It’s lovely. But then there’s the transition between fall and summer; that is my absolute favorite time of the year, because that’s when it begins to get cold, October moons make their dramatic appearances, and, if you’re lucky, you get quite a few wet, cold, rainy afternoons. (No doubt encouraged by hurricanes raging along the coasts, sadly) And those are the ones where, with a good glass of red wine, great jazzy music, and a bunch of about-to-die tomatoes, delicious soups are born. (Or pumpkin marmalade, which is doing it’s thing on the stove as I write).
Soups and cold days….roasted tomato soups and cold days….this version of that good old recipe includes potatoes, which are always a pleasant surprise, and since my basil plant was victim of a murdering plague, is made with oregano. It’s really easy to make, but incredibly rewarding once it’s found it’s way to your spoon. Read more for the recipe.
So today started as pretty rough day, even though the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes was raindrops, the wet bark on the trees outside my window, and a lot of birds. (My favorite sight to wake up to). I slept virtually nothing and had an appointment with my acupuncturist, aka my torturer. Anyhow, after muscle therapy, a nerve block, needles and laser therapy, I left nauseous, dizzy and barely able to stand up, with an apple in my hand kindly provided by one of the assistants. Once back home, I crashed on the floor in my room and dozed for about two hours, and then came back to consciousness with one thought in my mind; I need a pick me up. And so, seeing the pouring rain outside my window, got a strike of inspiration, and a chance at feeling better. This soup, due to the lack of vegetables in my fridge, has an onion base with a lot of broth, but its compensated by the delicious buttery and milky mushrooms you’ll add at the end. The result is very light, creamy, delicious smelling lentil goodness.
Lentil and mushroom soup
4 tbsp. olive oil
3 scallions, chopped (save a few stems)
1 1/2 red onions, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 cups lentils
12 cups hot chicken broth (If you’ve got stock, go for it)
2 tbsp. butter
2 cups diced mushrooms
1/2 cup milk
Fresh oregano leaves
Heavy cream for serving
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large and deep saucepan. Add the chopped scallions and red onions, along with the whole stems from the scallions (you’ll be taking these out later). Cook over med-low for about 5 minutes, until the onions are soft and see through. Add the shallot and cook for another three minutes, stirring to keep them from burning. Add the tomatoes, stir and add the broth. Bring to a full boil and then reduce the heat to med-low. Let cook for 10 minutes, remove the scallion stems, and using the blender, puree all the solids. Return to the saucepan and once its boiling again, add the lentils. Reduce the heat to simmer, cover, and cook for about 35 minutes, until the lentils become soft.
Meanwhile, in a separate frying pan, heat the butter until it begins to bubble. Add the mushrooms (make sure they are dry if you washed them) and thyme. Cook until browned and the butter smells like heaven. Add the half cup of milk, and stir until you get a first boil. Remove from heat and set aside, or if your lentils are ready, incorporate. Turn off heat. Serve with a spoonful of heavy cream and a pair of oregano leaves.