This meal started out as a “Meatless Monday” dish, but when I came across a few shrimp in the freezer begging to be put to good use, I decided to bend the rules a little and toss them into this veggie soup. The technique behind this soup is outstanding and could be put to use for many a grain or bean based meal. Add meat or seafood if you’re in the mood, or make it meatless…it’s your call.
As I said, the foundation of this soup can be twisted all sorts of ways to come up with original creations that will make you smile. Take a bunch of aromatics (in this case garlic, ginger, fennel, shallot, carrot, and parsnips) and pulse them in a food processor until finely minced. Saute them in butter with spices until lightly caramelized, then toss in some water or stock and the grain or (canned or soaked) bean of your choice. Let it cook until the grains or beans are cooked through, toss in a protein if you’re feeling sassy and adjust your seasonings. Finish with a splash of acidity (lemon juice or vinegar), and some fresh herbs if you want…. et voila, a super healthy soup the whole gang will love!
I love that the veggies are so finely minced that even the most determined kid will eventually tire of trying to pull them from the soup, and be resigned to snarfing them down by the mouthful. This meal also provides a great vehicle for trying all sorts of new grains or legumes. In addition to lentils, barley, quinoa, and wheatberries would be awesome here. As for beans, everything from garbanzos to black beans, cannelinis, and kidneys would make for a lovely soup.
I placed the shrimp on the edge of the bowl for the photos you see, but when it came time to actually eat dinner, I cut the shrimp up and mixed it right into the soup, it’s much easier to actually eat that way.
Cheers – Steve
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1 piece - 1/3 inch long, peeled fresh ginger
- 1/2 small bulb fennel, cored and cut into chunks
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 parsnip, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 large shallot, cut in half
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt; plus more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; plus more to taste
- 12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
- splash of lemon juice or vinegar
- a few drops of sriracha (if you like heat)
- Heat the oven to 400℉.
- Pulse the garlic and ginger in a food processor until chopped. Add the fennel, carrot, parsnip and shallot and pulse until coarsely chopped.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a 4 quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped vegetables and cook, stirring, until softened and lightly caramelized. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring until the curry powder is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the lentils, stock, salt, and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a brisk simmer, cover and cook until the lentils are tender 25-20 minutes.
- Transfer 1-1/2 cups of the soup to a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Stir the purée back into the pot with the rest of the soup along with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pull from the heat and cover to keep warm while you cook the shrimp.
- Toss the shrimp in a bowl with a glug of EVOO, salt and pepper to taste, and a pinch of curry powder, toss to combine. Spread the shrimp in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake until the shrimp is just cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from the oven, cut into bite-sized pieces and toss into the soup. Serve in warmed bowls.
- spritz each bowl with a touch of lemon juice and offer sriracha for folks to add a little heat if desired.