I must be in a lemon frame of mind. Just a night after making the Lemon Garlic Pasta, I move on to making Lemon Chickpea Lentil Soup from ed&bv.
Did you know that fresh lemon juice is good for your liver?... helps cleanse and strengthen. Hmmm, maybe it's the post-Christmas-chocolate indulgences that I'm working on with the lemon juice. :)
So, here we are making the soup. When I make soups, or one-pot dishes, I always get everything needed in the first step of cooking straight in the pot, as shown here with the onions, garlic, herbs, spices, and oil. Then, once I get it on to the stove, cover it and start the cooking, I have 6-8 minutes to get the other ingredients going, such as rinsing the lentils, getting the stock ready, etc. Speaking of veggie stock, this is the brand I use. I talk about this stock in ed&bv, and really, I love using it. It is convenient, and doesn't take up much space or quickly expire as do the tetra-pak stocks. Plus, imo, the flavor of this Harvest Sun veg stock is better than the tetra-pak stocks. 1 cube = 2 cups of stock, so you can divide cubes if needed for 1 cup.
Once the veggies have softened, you add the lentils, chickpeas (reserving some), zukes (or tomatoes, I used zukes this time round), stock, etc, and let simmer until the lentils have softened up.
Then, remove the bay leaves (oooh, steamy soup!) so you can give the soup a whiz - 'cause you don't want to blend those babies up. Blend some (not fully, just to make a little creamy and thick, but keeping some bits of veg in there). And guys, you've GOTTA have an immersion blender in your kitchen!!
After blending, you can return the bay leaves to the soup to continue to flavor the mixture, and pour on in that fresh lemon juice (did I mention not to use the bottled stuff. no. no. no. fresh lemons only please).
I know it might sound odd to add something acidic to a soup, but it really heightens and brightens the flavor... and in this case it adds some tang as well, using anywhere from 1/4 - 1/3 cup. Then, finally if you have fresh thyme around, add some to the soup for a few minutes before serving. It's not listed as an ingredient must, but since there is dried thyme in the soup, the fresh thyme just boosts that flavor, and it so bloody delicious with the flavors in the soup.
Here's your wee thyme leaf. Remove the leaves simply by holding the top end of the stalk with one hand, and pinching your thumb and index finger of your other hand to pull down in the opposite direction of the growth of the leaves, as shown (yeah, I'm only using one hand here, but someone has to take the pic)! Now, if your thyme is very young and tender, this can be tedious to do because the stalk itself is so soft. In this case, just chop up. Also, if your stalks are very thick with lots of little stalk growths and too plentiful to pull in opposite direction, use the same technique to pull the leaves away, but pull along in the direciton of growth of the leaves - you won't 'clean' the stalk as well, but it will save time. Have I lost you? If you get a several stalks of thyme, you'll understand - some are sparse like the one shown left, and others are quite thick and well, stalky. Anyhow, after getting the leaves, chop a bit and add to the soup for ~5 mins before serving. Add fresh pepper and extra salt if you like (ground coarse sea salt is great!). Then slurp up!
...and now, who am I kidding... as if I've stopped eating chocolate since Christmas.