Lentil and Chickpea Soup in the Crock Pot

It took me a while to recognize the pattern, but so many Mondays I come home and don’t feel motivated to cook.  I realized that I should figure out how to do something easy that is prepared in advance.  I have finally started to use and appreciate our pretty red crock pot.  On a Monday when I’m adjusting to the transition between weekend life and work life, it helps me to know that when I come home, while I fumble for my keys outside of the kitchen door, I will smell something warming and well-seasoned wafting out of the cracks in my house that has been cooking all day in the crock pot.  A meal slowly simmering at home gives me an all-day attitude adjustment, a sense of impending peace, calm and well-being ahead of me.  It makes the day and the evening better.  Much, much better.  Tonight, we came home to a simmering crock of Red Lentil and Chickpea Soup.
  • 3 cloves of garlic – crushed in the garlic press, or smashed and finely minced;
  • 2-3 inches of fresh ginger – peeled and grated;
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into “chickpea size” chunks;
  • 2 stalks of celery, rinsed, peeled and chopped into “chickpea size” chunks;
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced;
  • 1 cup of red lentils – picked over;
  • 1 14 ounce tin can of Eden Organic garbanzo beans- rinsed and drained;
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric;
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala;
  • 1 pinch saffron threads – chopped,  or crushed and rolled between index finger and thumb;
  • 1 teaspoon cumin;
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper;
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom;
  • 4-5 cups Vegetable Broth;
  • Optional additions:  One 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes or 2 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste– we are both needing a rest from acidic canned tomatoes in every soup and sauce we make, so I left them out, no matter how ill-advised that was;  1 diced winter squash or a couple of Yukon Gold potatoes chopped into “chickpea sized” chunks.
  • Toppings, optional, but highly recommended– a squeeze of lime juice 5 minutes before serving and one handful of chopped flat leaf parsley or cilantro.  More optional–a dollop of Greek Yogurt, Sour Cream or a tiny dash of saffron-infused heavy cream.  I have never tried saffron-infused cream, but it sounds good, doesn’t it?
  • For serving – cooked rice, or a slice of grainy bread with butter, also optional.

Method:  chop the vegetables and measure the spices on Sunday, or whatever day is right before your most tiring and hectic day of the week, and put everything into the liner of the crock pot, cover it, and placed it in the fridge.

Next morning, add the vegetable broth, give it a gentle stir and place the liner in the crock with the heat on low.  This should cook 8-10 hours on low.  If you want to give the broth a little body, you can blend a few cups of the finished soup with an immersion blender.  Or you can use my trick, and mash some of the soup solids with a potato masher.*  The soup goes well with a nice chunk of bread and butter or a little scoop of rice.  It reheats beautifully.  It is Monday.  This is all I have to offer.

*Still haven’t gotten an immersion blender… it is at the top of my kitchen wish list.  Accepting trade offers.

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