Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Main Soup

Years later, I can't remember where I got The Black African Cookbook-- flea market, used book store?--but one Christmas or summer visit, I gave it to my sister Kristine and brother-in-law, John.

After thumbing through it, we decided to try a couple of recipes--injera and Sambhar Soup. They were both terrific, and the soup soon became one of my staples. It's the soup I've cooked most often ever since, and one of the few recipes I actually copied into the little loose leaf recipe book my other sister, Joanne, gave me. Its page has long been covered with soup stains, but by now I know it by heart:

Sambhar Soup

1 c lentils or split peas
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 bell pepper chopped (I often use poblanos)
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 qts water
3 tsps curry powder (I'm guessing they call for tsps rather than 1 tb because a teaspoon will fit more easily into the typical spice jar)
1/2 c tomato sauce (I sometimes use tomatoes or just omit; last time I made it, I added the tomato juice I'd drained from a can of Italian plum tomatoes when making puttanesca sauce)
3 tsp salt (I usually don't salt it)
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp dry mustard
juice of 2 lemons (most of the time I just use 1)
coriander chopped (I usually omit)

Drain lentils. Put lentils, onions, pepper, potatoes,
and water into deep soup pot and bring to a boil. Stir
well. Turn down heat, cover, and simmer till vegetables are

Put through a strainer or food-mill (I've never done this; the first time we made it, we looked, tasted, and agreed it was just fine as is), then back into pot.

Add tomato, spices, and lemon. Simmer for 10 minutes.

If you'd like to get the lovely little cookbook this comes from, good luck. And let me know if you find it. I've tried Amazon, Powell's, and Google--long out of print, I'm guessing.

Searching for the soup online, I learned that it's actually South Indian--but then there are many South Africans with roots there.

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