Spicy Vegetable Ragout (or a really hearty soup)

So a few things about this recipe. The first is that it is really delicious (really, really delicious). Another is that it--like most recipes that I post on this blog--can be tailored to suit your needs or cravings. I am not by any means a vegetarian--though I have flirted with the idea--but sometimes I simply do not want meat. The reason I mention this is that if you want to try this recipe but do want some sort of meat in it, nearly any would be suited for these strong spices, you could even add a heartier seafood such as shrimp. The vegetables them selves are--of course--interchangeable; I simply used what I had at hand. This ended up being pretty spicy, but it goes without saying that the spices can be toned down. Anyhow, this really hit the spot on a cold, cold day. And did I mention how delicious this is?

Spicy Vegetable Ragout

Makes about 1 gallon

4 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 head celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 rutabaga, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon (pinch) saffron threads
1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
1 teaspoon whole caraway seed
1 teaspoon whole coriander seed
1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
4 small dried chilies (optional)
1 cup (6 ounces) lentils
2 quarts vegetable broth
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
6 plum tomatoes
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 lemon, sliced thin

Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot, zucchini, bell pepper, and rutabaga. Stir the vegetables, then cover the pot to allow them to “sweat” for a few minutes. Stir the vegetables, then allow them to sweat another minute or so. Remove the lid and stir in the garlic and all of the spices. Cook the vegetables, garlic, and spices for a few minutes, stirring often. Add the lentils—stirring to coat them with oil and spices—then stir in the broth. Bring the ragout to a boil, then lower it to a simmer. Add the potato, tomatoes, salt, and sliced lemon. Simmer the ragout for about 30-45 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. If the stew becomes too thick add more liquid.

Urban Simplicity.