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Red Lentil Caraway Soup

Red Lentil Caraway Soup

I’ve been mercifully spared from food allergies. They’re tough, folks, those food allergies and sensitivities (those of you that have them are probably nodding along with me right now).

When she was young, my niece had a terrible time with food allergies. For a good stretch, the only thing she would eat that she could eat was potato chips. (My idea of food heaven on earth, all health things being equal; her parents, however, were not happy.) Nevertheless, she grew to be a gorgeous, size 2 adult who now eats little else besides mac and cheese. She’s a girl after my own foodie heart, that one.)

In the final years of my dad’s life, his doctor suggested that he might have a gluten sensitivity and that going gluten-free might help relieve his frequent digestive upsets. As with everything, Dad jumped into the GF world with both feet.

This was 2006, 2007. There were GF sections in the grocery store at this point, but help and guidance was scarce, even on the interwebs. Avoiding (or substituting) the obvious wheat products — bread, pasta — was a no-brainer, but it was everything else that tripped us up. From sausages to salad dressings to pickles to Rice Krispies (my Dad’s favorite cereal), gluten has a way of working it’s way into everything.

Since then, the situation for food sensitivity sufferers has improved considerably, thanks in part to the enormous library of info on the interwebs and better product labeling. Just this morning, I noticed that my bottle of ibuprofen notes in red letters that the medication is gluten-free. Progress.  (Although I suspect that for folks with anaphylaxis-inducing allergies, much more work is needed.)

So why am I prattling on about food allergies I don’t have? Because it’s National Food Allergy Awareness Week, and, in writing down the ingredients for today’s soup, I noticed that it’s nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free, soy-free and egg-free — the most common food allergans.

And also because one can develop food allergies at any point in their life. Awareness is a good thing.

Red Lentil Caraway Soup

I had a friend once with migraine-inducing allergies to every day ingredients like corn, wheat, chocolate and onions.

O.M.G.  Onions!

People, I would rather be unable to eat chocolate AND sugar AND potato chips than have to live without onions (and therefore leeks and shallots and chives and garlic). {Hugs} to the soup-lovers of the world who really, really want to but can’t eat onions.

Red Lentil Caraway Soup

I made this soup on a chilly, raining-cats-and-dogs Sunday afternoon in May, and it was just the thing to lift the blahs away. The caraway and lemon are amazing. If you like caraway and lemon. Which I hope you do, because the bright flavors of this soup, plus the healthy dose of fiber- and protein-packed red lentils, makes this a warm-weather keeper.

Karen xo

Red Lentil Caraway Soup

adapted from Gourmandelle

In recognition of National Food Allergy Awareness Week, note that this soup is nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and egg-free. (Actually, the timing of this post with food allergy week was entirely coincidental but is proof that a limited diet doesn’t mean limited deliciousness.)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped/span>
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed (or ground) caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 cups vegetable stock
2/3 cup red lentils
1 tablespoon preserved lemons (rind only), minced (or the juice and zest, grated, of one small lemon)
2 tablespoons coconut milk or heavy cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a medium stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Saute the onions, carrots and celery until soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, caraway and paprika, mixing well with the vegetables, for one minute to cook out the rawness of the garlic.

Pour in the stock and turn the heat to medium-high until softly bubbling. Add the lentils and lemons (or juice and zest)), cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the lentils are soft, stir in the coconut milk. If the soup is too thick, add small amounts of water or stock. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Optional: use a stick blender to smooth out the soup to your desired texture.

Prep Time: 10 minutes       Cook time: 30 minutes       Yield: 2 or 3 generous servings
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Tuesday 15th of May 2012

If I had to choose between onions and chocolate - it would be "chocolate who"? (Too much chocolate is migraine inducing for me - so we tend to not be very good friends anyway).

I can't imagine a world without the allium family. What a depressing place that would be.


Tuesday 15th of May 2012

This looks like a delicious alternative to broth-based soups. It looks delicious.

Tony P

Monday 14th of May 2012

As a kid I had allergies to strawberries, cherries, peaches, plums. But I was a stubborn kid. Desensitized through small doses.

Now I'm free of food allergies. But I can just imagine the hell of it.