Mexican Red Lentil Stew with Cilantro and Limes
Ancho (Ahn-cho) Chile (Capsicum Annum) means Wide Chile Pepper. This chile ranges from 3 – 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10. An Ancho is the dried form of a Poblano Pepper and often is mislabeled as a Pasilla or Mulato Pepper. Anchos have sweet fruity flavor with hints of cherry, prune, and fig. Anchos, combined with the Pasilla and Guajillo, form the Holy Trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units are 1,000 to 3,000.
Anchos are great in salsa, soups, enchilada and any sauce needing mild heat and chile flavor. Chopped, pureed or ground, they can be added directly to your recipes.
1 cup dry red lentils
2 cups water
1 T olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 T minced garlic (or less, but I like a lot of garlic)
1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chile powder (grind dried chile in coffee or spice grinder till it’s a fine powder)
1 can roasted tomatoes (I like petite dice tomatoes for soup)
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp. green Tabasco sauce (or other hot sauce of your choice. Green Tabasco is fairly mild, so you may want less if you use a stronger hot sauce.)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (2-3 limes, or less if you’re not that into lime)
1/2 – 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Optional: cut limes and sour cream or vegan sour cream substitute for serving the soup
Makes 4-6 servings, but this freezes well and can easily be doubled.
Put red lentils in a small pot, rinse and drain if needed, then add 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, turn off heat and cover. Let lentils sit in the hot water 30 minutes.
While lentils are cooking in the water, finely chop onions and celery and mince garlic (or you can use minced garlic from a jar like I did.) Heat olive oil in heavy soup pot, add onion and celery and saute for 3-4 minutes, just long enough that vegetables are starting to soften. Add garlic and cook a few minutes more. Add ground turmeric, ground cumin, and chile powder, stir, and cook 1-2 minutes more.
Add diced roasted tomatoes, vegetable broth, and hot sauce. Add lentils after they have soaked for 30 minutes, then let soup simmer for 15-30 minutes (or until lentils are as soft as you’d like them. I simmered it about 25 minutes.)
While soup cooks, wash, dry and finely chop 1/2 – 1 cup fresh cilantro and squeeze limes to get 1/4 cup fresh lime juice. When the lentils are softened as much as you’d like, stir in chopped cilantro and lime juice and cook 5 minutes more.
Serve hot, with additional cut limes to squeeze into the soup. Can top with sour cream or vegan substitute if desired.