Thursday, February 5, 2015

Hungarian warming lentil soup

I made this soup yesterday morning and took a picture during Sunrise, therefore the blueish color :) In Switzerland everything is covered by snow, and the morning sunrises are wonderful :)
Lentil soup is a are very common Hungarians dish, but mostly contains some smoked meat. I have used a little smoked paprika instead and got the nice smoky taste. Something very special for Hungarian soups is called "Rántás". This is a procedure of mixing oil, flour and paprika powder and adding it to the soup at the end of cooking. This gives the soup a nice red color and makes it more thick.  I will explain below how to prepare one :) For this amount of soup I was supposed to use much more oil and flour, according to the traditional recipes. But I tried to keep the soup light and not too oily with too much flour in it.
The soup is very warming and a great for lunch or dinner :)

This portion serves 5-6 people.

What will you need:

For the soup:
- 1 medium onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 5 medium potatoes
- 6-7 carrots (different colors)
- 500 grams brown lentils (preferably soaked overnight)
- 5 celery stalks
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 bay leaves
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp mom's vegetable stock (or one cube, if bought)
- 1tsp vinegar

For the "Rántás":
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika
- 2 tbsp spelt flour 
- 2 dl of cold water

To prepare the soup:
  1. A day before: wash the lentils and soak them overnight in filtered water. This step is not necessary, so if you haven't soaked the lentils, you can still make this soup :) Just make sure, that the lentils will be cooked and the veggies don't overcook meanwhile. The next day discard water and rinse the lentils.
  2. Wash the carrots and celery stalks and cut them into small pieces.
  3. Peel the potatoes and onion and cut them into smaller cubes.
  4. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat in a big pot. Add onions and sauté until onions become glassy, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add tomato paste, garlic, bay leaves and oregano. Sauté for a few more minutes
  6. Add stalks of celery, carrots, potatoes and smoked paprika powder. Mix well.
  7. Add as much water that it covers all vegetables and leaves a bit of space for the lentils :)
  8. Bring to boil, reduce the heat and cook for 5 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, salt and pepper. 
  9. Add lentils and cook for 12 more minutes. This may vary on the type of the lentils, or if you have pre-soaked your lentils. Please read the package for cooking instructions.
To prepare the  "Rántás". 
  1. Start preparing the  "Rántás" 5-6 minutes before your soup is done.
  2. Heat the olive oil (on sunflower seed oil) in a pan on medium heat. When oil is heated add the flour (your soup is still cooking on medium heat).
  3. Stir constantly until small bubbles appear. Keep on stirring constantly until the flour gets a golden brown color. Make sure that the flour doesn't burn! The whole procedure should take about 3-4 minutes. If the paste is too dense and knots are created, then add a bit of oil. Keep on stirring. 
  4. Add the paprika powder and immediately take the pot off the heat, otherwise the paprika gets bitter. Mix in the paprika and start adding the water gradually. Stir quickly so the paste gets very smooth with no knots in it. Don't get surprised, if the whole mixture becomes like one big flour knot when you add the water :) If you add the water gradually and stir it very quickly, the paste becomes smooth. Just stir like crazy :):)
  5. Mix the "Rántás" into your soup and boil it for a 2-3 minutes stirring gradually. Turn off the heat.
  6.  Add vinegar. Serve hot garnished with fresh parsley.



 Enjoy :)