I spent this past weekend visiting Kentucky for the first time and running the Bourbon Chase (more on that soon when I finish editing my photos). The autumn color was truly spectacular and we couldn't have asked for a more beautiful weekend.
Even though we are experiencing a bit of warm snap right now, October has me thinking of peppermint tea and hearty soup as I rustle through falling leaves on my walk to school. The first task on my fall cooking list was this lentil stew that I fell in love with last year. I don't think I have ever met a lentil soup I didn't like, but this might be my favorite.
The cayenne and smoked paprika give this stew some snap, but the earthy flavor of the roasted garlic and vegetables balance the dish. It keeps well and makes an excellent workday lunch. You can make this stew with any type of lentil, but I am fond of French green lentils. They hold their shape after cooking, unlike other varieties that tend to fall apart.
Spicy Roasted Garlic & Lentil Stew
1 1/2 lb carrots, peeled
5 Tbl olive oil
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 large shallots, sliced thin
6 garlic cloves, quartered
1 C chopped celery
1/2 Tbl fresh thyme leaves (optional)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika
dash of red pepper flakes
dash of cinnamon
1 C french green lentils
4 1/2 C vegetable stock
Preheat oven to 400F. Arrange the carrots on a baking sheet and coat with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Roast for 20 minutes. Turn the carrots and add the shallot and garlic. Roast 15 more minutes. Allow the carrots to cool and chop into half inch pieces.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large stockpot. Add the carrots, shallots, garlic, celery, cayenne, red pepper flakes, paprika, and cinnamon. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Add the lentils and the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occassionally. Season to taste.