Monday, December 28, 2009

Lentil Soup with Harissa, and Cheesy Bread

It is day 4 and the theme with the marathon cooks seems to be all about flavor- spices and seasonings and pantry ingredients that add a punch! (and I hope y'all like lentil soup, because we have three versions)...

Cumin: Middle Eastern Lentil Soup and Tiranga Jeera Rice

Saffron: Foccacia and Carrot Kheer

Nigella: Naan with Nigella Seeds

Garam Masala: Upma, Cauliflower Peas Curry, Gobhi ki Subzi

Chole Masala: Punjabi Chole

Tandoori Masala: Vegetable Seekh Kebabs

Kala Masala: Masale Bhaat

Magic Sambhar Podi: Aloo Gobi

Italian Seasoning: Butternut Squash Manicotti

Poppy seeds: Sweet Crumble

Garlic: Five Lentil Soup

Sun dried tomatoes: Sun dried tomato Paratha

Pesto: Potato, Kale and Pasta Salad

Cinnamon, Nutmeg and other warm spices: Oat Crinkled Cookies, Pumpkin (& Banana) Bread and Ragi-Sweet Potato Sourdough Bread

Vanilla: Strawberry Smoothie

Salt (yes, sometimes that's all you need): Tostones

A Tex-Mex flavor explosion: Chicken Fajitas with Guacamole

Next, we have some dishes from Southern India that sing with a medley of spices and seasonings: Three kinds of rice and Pachai Morekozhambu, Paruppu Thuvayal, Azhugal Mangai Pachadi

Finally, how to spice up cooked rice- Rice Pakodas

I took the spicy route today too, with the blazing hot Moroccan spice blend, harissa. As every new month begins, I run out and grab Sauce Magazine from the lobby of the library or one of the local grocery stores. It is a free monthly newspaper here in St. Louis, full of great food essays, restaurant reviews and recipes. A few months ago, I read (and cut out and lovingly stashed in my recipe box) a column on harissa, complete with a recipe and a list of ways to use this beautiful spice blend, and it was written by none other than Becky (she of the beanstalk).

So Recipe #5 is Harissa. I followed Becky's recipe closely. In preparation for making harissa, I added a few new ingredients to my pantry- caraway seeds (shahjeera in Hindi, no, that's not correct), and some assorted dried peppers, like guajillos and moritas.

In my little spice grinder, the harissa came together quickly- rehydrated peppers, toasted spices, garlic, olive oil, salt.

Tonight, I used the harissa to add a little something something to a simple lentil soup. I sauteed onions and carrots in the pressure cooker, added lentils, tomato puree, salt, pepper and water and pressure cooked it into a soup in minutes. Then I stirred in 2 teaspoons or so of the harissa and a handful of minced cilantro. Suddenly the humble lentil soup was transformed into something exotic.

To go with the lentil soup, I splurged calorie-wise and made Recipe #4: Hot Cheesy Bread, inspired by this recipe. One look at those volcanoes of cheese and I knew I had to try this recipe just once as a special treat.

For me, this was a two-ingredient wonder, because I already had the five minute olive oil dough in the fridge (here's the recipe for those who don't have access to the book).

So all we had to do was shred some cheese, pat the dough into a rectangle, sprinkle the cheese, roll into a log, cut into 8-10 rolls and bake 'em. Here they are, fresh out of the oven:

Good night, all!


  1. Hi Nupur,

    Your lentil soup is very tempting and looks delicious. I will definately try it.
    The recipe marathon is so much fun. Thanks for hosting this event.
    As you know, I had technical problems for my first entry, so should I post two days today?


  2. delicious spread. i've got a nit to pick - a small one. shahjeera (atleast the one used in india) is not caraway. black cumin is cuminum cyminum, caraway is carum carvi.

  3. Those cheese rolls look awesome.. Haven't tried harissa, I've been on look out for a good recipe. Will try this.

  4. Nupur looks like we have the same things on mind. Come over to see...These cheesy buns are killers.

  5. Loved both the recipes..the lentil soup is a great recipe ..a must try!Thanks for the recipe and thanks for inititating the marathon..i am having fun!

  6. looks liek we have a 'Spices' theme today. Lovely round-up..
    Harissa is looking mouthwatering..I need to make those.

  7. I was meaning to make Harissa for sometime now and after reading your post, I HAVE to make it ;).. today, I blogged about a granola mix recipe, adapted from your 'standardized version'..;).. It was yum! Thanks,


  8. Yummy! Maybe I can try making harissa at home using normal red chillies... you even get fresh red chillies in the market now.

    I love that bread too... I wish I had more time :)

  9. I love the exotic chillies in Becky's recipe! I have been wanting to make something with Harissa for a long time now ... your beautiful lentil soup is just the inspiration I needed, Nupur!

  10. Wow that bread looks to die for! I just made this dough yesterday and its sitting in the 'fridge waiting to be made into a pizza this evening, but I think it's going to be cheese bread today! Thanks :)

  11. Nupur you are doing an incredible job of updating the recipes everyday. Hats off to you!
    spicy lentil Soup any day!bookmarked it to try soon.

  12. Oh yes, it does look exotic! Just right for our cold winter here! YUM!

  13. Harissa looks spicy and the fiery red is very tempting, if only I knew how to rehydrate :)
    With those lentils and the cheesy bread a perfect way to showcase the harissa.

    What a lovely array of foods for the marathon. Beautiful.

  14. Your lentil soup looks so inviting!

    You build such an interesting story everyday, around the varied posts. Thanks for organizing the marathon.

  15. Hi Nupur,
    I am a daily reader of our blog, mostly a lurker, not left too many comments unfortunately. But I really want you to know I appreciate your efforts and patience very much in trying out all the recipes and giving a detailed account of everything. Onehotstove is my one-stop-shop for any recipes I want to try :)- The recent crowd-pleaser was your tortilla soup. Thanks so much and wish you and your family Happy Holidays and a Prosperous 2010.
    Naveen varshachya shubhechcha :)-


  16. Hello Nupur,

    Thanks so much for hosting this event.. The harrissa is looking very very spicy good... nice way of making the lentil soup more flavorful.. Nice complete and different meal for breaking normal routine food...

  17. Rujuta- Sure, if you want to.

    bee- My bad. I've corrected that.

    Pavani- This is a simple and tasty recipe; I loved it.

    Anjali- Yes, they are!

    Madhuli- I'm glad you are having fun :)

    Madhu- Yes, everyone came up with interesting recipes with spices.

    Siri- Your granola looks fantastic- so glad you liked it! And yes, you HAVE to try harissa it is wonderful.

    Raaga- Oh, it would be fantastic with fresh red chillies! Or with dried Indian chillies too. This bread honestly takes no time, much less demanding than most bread recipes.

    Sheetal- Harissa is worth a try; it is so tasty and versatile.

    Miri- I made the whole batch, used half for pizza the other day and the rest for cheese bread today :)

    sayantani- Thanks!

    notyet100- Thanks!

    Deeba PAB- Yes, it the perfect antidote for cold winters :)

    indosungod- Trust me, these chillies are really easy to rehydrate ;)

    blinkandmiss- People seem to be sending themed posts somehow, which makes it easy to organize, are we reading each other's minds? :D

    Rashmi- Thanks for taking the time to write in. It is always nice to hear some feedback. Happy New Year to you too :)

    Unpredictable- Yes, it added wonderful flavor to a simple soup.

  18. Harissa looks most interesting! Its one of the things I always wanted to cook with but never got around to trying it. Lentil soup looks wonderful too.

  19. I need to try harissa. I have to admit, that the first time I heard about this spice was in a perfume, not
    oh- and I really want some of that cheesy bread!

  20. I love soups esp during cold biting winters. Will try Harissa for sure. This is a filling one ot recipe Nupur.

  21. Hot soup and warm cheesy bread, perfect on a cold snowy night, yummm.

  22. Perfect timing -- I just made some vegan split pea soup and was contemplating how to jazz up the flavor. Harissa! perfect!


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