This earthy soup could also be called “Early Spring at the Farmer’s Market.” It features two overlooked root vegetables that are among the last of the previous season’s veggies still available at market stalls in early spring, when only the greenhouse and microgreen growers can offer anything newly harvested.
An unexpected source of protein comes with the base of yellow lentils, which are cooked so long they completely disintegrate and are undetectable in the finished product—parents of picky eaters, take note.
I enjoy this with a bit of subtle heat from stirring in a bit of hot red chili powder (not the stuff you use to make tacos or chili—just powdered hot chilis). You could also substitute cayenne or a hit of hot sauce; if using hot sauce, add that first and then taste before adding lemon juice so that it doesn’t get too acidic.
1 cup yellow lentils (moong dahl), rinsed
12 cups water
1 large rutabaga, roughly chopped
3 large parsnips, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 yellow onion, halved and finely sliced into crescents
10 crimini mushrooms, sliced
Salt & pepper, to taste
Hot red chili powder, cayenne or hot sauce, to taste (optional)
1 lemon, juiced
Bring the lentils to boil in a large soup pot. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the rutabaga, parsnips and bay leaf and cook until the vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes: the rutabaga should be easily crushed with a wooden spoon and the parsnips will have started to disintegrate.
Meanwhile, sauté the onion in olive oil over low heat with a sprinkle of salt. Keep the heat low so that the onions caramelize and turn golden, but not brown. Push over to one side of the pan, then add the mushrooms and another glug of olive oil. Sauté until they start to turn brown.
Remove the bay leaf from the soup and purée with an immersion blender. It will be very thick; thin with water to desired consistency.
Scrape the mushroom-onion mixture into the soup pot and stir well. Add the salt, pepper, chili/cayenne/hot sauce (if using) and lemon juice. Stir well. You’ll want to be fairly liberal with the salt, since this recipe doesn’t use any stock.
Ladle into bowls and serve with a tangle of microgreens.