Soup in the Summer? Sign Us Up!

Hot soups are enjoyed in every broiling climate on the planet, from the steamy streets of Bangkok to heat-rippled Serengeti plains. From another soup-loving, high-temp locale, the Middle East, comes one of our fave soups of all time - Split Red Lentil with Cumin and Lemon. Our recipe is the result of multiple efforts to recreate, as exactly as possible, the same soup we've been enjoying since 1986 at Mamoun's Falafel on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village. The closest we've come thus far is to first rinse well 1 cup of split red lentils and place in a sauce pan with 4-5 cups of water. Bring to a boil and remove any foam that accumulates on top. Reduce heat to a steady simmer and add 1 t. turmeric powder, 3 crushed cloves of garlic, 1 t. cumin seeds and about 1/4 cup minced onion. Cook, partially covered, until the lentils have broken apart and created a coarse puree, about 20-30 minutes. Add more water if needed and stir frequently to prevent the lentils from sticking to the pan. Season with plenty of salt, 3/4 t. cayenne pepper and 1 t. ground cumin. Add water to the desired consistency and cook, on a very gentle heat, for another 5 minutes. Finally stir in fresh lemon juice to taste - you'll need at least 2 tablespoons - and 1-2 T. strong, peppery olive oil. Serve hot with toasted or warmed pita bread.

And another thing we miss from NYC take-out restaurants is Hot and Sour Soup. The good kind, which granted isn't so easy to find but common enough. For some reason mid-town Manhattan Chinese lunch spots seemed to produce the the spiciest, tangiest and best. Again, we've tried to recreate this nostalgic slurp-fest in the Cafe Drake HRV kitchens and came up with this recipe. We think you'll appreciate our vegetable-laden vegan version: In a large saucepan heat 2 T. coconut or vegetable oil. Add 1 cup thinly sliced red onions, 1 T. grated or minced ginger and 2 sliced hot red or green chilies. Cook for a minute at medium heat and stir in 1 cup peeled and diced carrots and 1 cup coarsely chopped green cabbage. Cook for 2 minutes or so before adding 6 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a steady simmer and cover. Cook for 5 minutes. While the soup bubbles away, mix together in a bowl 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce, 2 T. apple cider or rice vinegar, 1 t. salt, 1 heaping t. ground black pepper, 1/4 cup water and 2 T. cornstarch. Stir well to dissolve the cornstarch and then set aside for a few minutes. Now, add to the soup pot 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (any kind you like), about 1/2 cup sliced zucchini and some firm tofu (cut into small cubes, as much or little as you prefer; we use about 1 cup). Simmer the soup, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender. Add the cornstarch mixture and stir until the soup thickens a bit. Finally, throw in 1 small, diced tomato and a handful of baby spinach or shredded bok choy leaves. Cook another couple of minutes and then stir in 1 t. sesame oil. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and/or vinegar as desired. Serve very hot with rice or bread.


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