Two Heads of Lettuce

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Red Lentil Soup

The shabbat-after-next we will read the torah portion Toledot. It has many well-known stories including, perhaps the best known food related story in torah: the perhaps unequal exchange of Esau's birthright for Jacob's red lentil soup. My mother suggests that this may be the only time that a man is described cooking in the bible.
You can read the story in context here, but i've included the most relevant line (apologies for the bad hebrew formating):

30 And Esau said to Jacob: 'Let me swallow, I pray thee, some of this red, red pottage; for I am faint.' Therefore was his name called Edom.

וַיֹּאמֶר עֵשָׂו אֶל-יַעֲקֹב, הַלְעִיטֵנִי נָא מִן-הָאָדֹם הָאָדֹם הַזֶּה--כִּי עָיֵף,
ָנֹכִי; עַל-כֵּן קָרָא-שְׁמוֹ, אֱדוֹם

With this story as an inspiration i am including my favorite red lentil soup recipe. It made a prominent appearance at least once at JITW and dozens of other places. You can vary the water level to switch from soup-->stew-->sauce.

Red Lentil Stew

Olive Oil
6 cup Veggie Broth
2 cups Red Lentils
1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 16oz can Chopped Tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 tofu hot-dogs finely sliced
salt, pepper, seasonings to taste

In a large pot, heat oil and sauté the garlic and onions. Add broth, lentils, tomatoes, spices, and lemon juice. Bring to boil and then lower the heat to simmer. Simmer for roughly 40 minutes. Add tofu hot-dogs, brown sugar, and seasonings; cook a few more minutes. Add water if it is thicker than desired.

As usual, i recommend grinding your own cumin and coriander. This can be done easily with a spice grinder (think pepper canister) or an electric coffee bean grinder.

This soup freezes and reheats particularly well.

The recipe appears in the Five Books of Miriam (by Dr. Ellen Frankel) and was adapted by my ima from Gloria Greene's Jewish Holiday Cookbook.

For those interested in authentic biblical cooking all ingredients would have been in use in the ancient near east, except tomatoes which are a new world food and didn't make it to Eurasia until the 17th century. Tofu's history is unclear so i am not sure whether it is contemporaneous with the story.


At 10:38 AM, November 14, 2006, Blogger ZT said...

sorry about the hard to read hebrew. i wanted to leave the vowels in for accesability, but couldn't figure out how to make it align properly with this interface.


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