In the food world, the New Year is always ripe with trend predictions - what's the next cupcake? Is bacon in or out? Is coconut oil still wearing a golden health halo?
I love reading these predictions and observing how they unfold on menus, blogs and in grocery stores across America. I also love seeing how a trend can play out in my own kitchen.
Thanks to this month's Recipe ReDux (A Trend in Every Pot - a nod to not only trend predictions, but the popularity of soups this season), I was prompted to try a technique I'd never considered before - cooking with tea.
Multiple food trend predictions for 2013 have "tea" on the hotlist. Tea bars and lounges are becoming increasingly more popular and helping people appreciate that the world of tea goes well beyond simple black tea. I myself, thanks to a sensitivity to caffeine that has developed in my "old age", drink more hot tea now than ever before (I'm one of those weird Southerner who actually doesn't like sweetened iced tea). Always a coffee-lover at heart, I've found, though, that the options for over-the-top yummy decaf tea options beat decaf coffee every time. And while we're all familiar with a cup of tea, and even tea infused desserts, tea in savory applications isn't quite as common.
But with more dishes like this...
...it will be.
This was delicious. The robust flavors of the chai spices coupled with the savory and subtle earthiness of the lentils really worked. Honestly, it worked even better than I hoped.
I also opted to make this recipe a small batch option. You could easily double it to serve 4 or even more. But occasionally I like quick and easy recipes that just make a serving or two. I'm not a huge fan of freezing lentil soup and unfortunately, I'm the only one who eats it in my household. So this was just enough for lunch two days in a row. Plus, it's easy enough to make again whenever the craving hits you.
To find out more about what else is hot-in-the-pot for 2013, be sure to visit all of the ReDux recipes below.
Chai-Infused Lentil Soup
Ingredients (2 servings)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
- 1 to 2 chai tea bags
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup dried lentils, washed and picked over
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Dash of freshly ground black pepper
- Garnish: Additional coconut milk
In a small saucepan pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat coconut milk in microwave until hot, about 90 seconds; add tea bag to milk and let steep.
Add water and lentils to onions in pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 to 40 minutes or until lentils are tender.
Remove tea bag from coconut milk and discard bag. Stir coconut milk into soup. Ladle into bowls and serve. Top with additional coconut milk, if desired.