Spanish Lentil Soup

lentejas

There are two ways of cooking this absolutely delicious but not very good looking dish. The vegetarian way, or the traditional way. The difference is the chorizo and the type of stock. I will describe here the non vegetarian version, but if you want to avoid meat, just avoid the chorizo and swap the beef stock for vegetable stock.

This is a high fiber, high protein, low GI, Spanish traditional dish that every grandmother takes pride in. It tastes like “home” and can make grown ups feel like children again. On top of that, belongs to the acclaimed Mediterranean diet, because it’s packed with low energy release lentils and due to high fiber content, is very filling.

Lentils are at their best the day after they have been prepared, since all the flavours have then had the chance to mix properly.   You can prepare a big pot and it will last for 4 days in the fridge, but if you have leftovers, you can freeze them.

This is an easy recipe, but it takes a little while to prepare since I don’t use the pressure cooker, but a normal pot, looking at them every 10 minutes to make sure they are going as they should… of course, you don’t need to do this, but this is one of those dishes to which the secret ingredient is… LOVE 😉

lentejas

Ingredients:

Brown lentils (around 50 gr per person)

1 tomato

1 leek

1 onion

3 cloves of garlic

1 carrot

1 l. beef stock (or more depending on the size)

Salt

1 piece of Chorizo per person (cured chorizo, one inch long pieces)

Sweet paprika powder

Olive oil

In a big pot, put the tomato, leek, carrot, onion and one clove of garlic, all peeled and clean but NOT CHOPPED. The vegetable in whole, wash the lentils in water and add them. Then add the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer for 30 minutes.

Check regularly that it has enough water and if you see that is getting dry add some more water, you don’t want a loose soup but more of a stew consistency, but this will be achieved at the very end so it needs to be somehow loose at this point.

Take out the vegetables (onion, leek, tomato and carrot since the garlic will have dissolved by now) and blend them with a hand blender until they are a puree. Add half of the puree back to the soup, and the rest, you can reserve in a plastic container and freeze to make another pot of lentils in the future.

Let the soup keep boiling and in a separate pan put 2 tbsp. of olive oil and fry the rest of the garlic (whole pieces) in it until golden brown. Then remove the garlic and add one or two teaspoons of paprika powder to the oil, then add the oil to the soup and expect some smoke. No worries, it’s all good. Mix well and try the lentils. If they are soft, and melt in your mouth, they are ready! You can then add the chorizo and cook very slowly for another couple of minutes. Let them sit there for a few minutes before eating, or wait until cool and enjoy the next day.

Enjoy!!

Spanish Fish Stew

 

 

 

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Happy Monday, so to speak!

Today I would like to share with you a typical Spanish dish, that I have adapted slightly to be just a little bit healthier. It’s origin is in the north of the country, which being on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, it has one of the most stunning cooking styles (and ingredients) in the world.

This is a dish that can be prepared in advanced, making it very handy when you have people over, but also very good to have a warm delicious dinner waiting for you at home during the week. It is a bit time consuming, and has one step that even if it’s difficult, it can be intimidating for beginners…

Ingredients (serves 5):

100 gr of prawns (uncooked)

250 gr clams (with shell)

100 gr calamari rings

100 gr. mussels

250 gr monkfish (or hake if you can’t find it or as a cheaper alternative)

2 leeks

2 onions

1 carrot

A pinch of tarragon

1/2 a small glass of Brandy

1 cup fresh chopped tomato

2 cubes of fish stock

1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Kitchen equipment: a blender and a match

First prepare the fish stock. Traditional recipes can be found to do this the old fashion way, I personally don’t have the time and I always find it impossible to make it taste strong enough, so I cheat and use fish stock cubes. 2 dissolved in 1 liter of hot water. Be my guest if you want to create your own fumee… you have all my respect!

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Once the stock is ready and waiting to be used, we need to peel, clean and chop roughly our onions, leeks and carrot and cook them on medium heat until they are soft, then add salt and a pinch of tarragon. Bring up the temperature to the max and after 1 minute, add the brandy liquor and be prepared with the match. Light it up and let the alcohol burn until the flame dies for itself, it wont take more than a few seconds, don’t worry.

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Then add the tomato and mix and immediately after, the fish stock. Bring back to medium heat and let boil for another 20 minutes.

In the meantime, wash and chop the fish and the seafood except the clams, that should remain in water until it’s time to use them. Add salt and pepper to the fish and reserve.

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When the soup is ready, blend it all together until smooth and then add the clams, and then the seafood and fish. Then try the it and correct the salt only if necessary. Let cook for 3 more minutes and leave it to rest until cool. You can serve immediately, but I recommend waiting until the next meal time or even next day. You can also freeze it in portions.

Normally the recipe has bread to thicken the sauce, I have added one more onion for this purpose to avoid unnecessary carbs.

This is an absolutely delicious treat for those in a diet, and simply for anyone looking to impress dinner invitees!