This week could be the final freezing cold front before the spring swings in. So, I am doing some major slurping on a good old-fashioned Burmese lentil soup, a chunky protein-packed soup with a pleasant chew from the bean threads.
This particular soup is always served on the side and rarely gets the limelight that it deserves in the very center. But layering first with seared ground meat and tempered curry leaves elevates it to the level of unparalleled aroma and flavor. In the color department, turmeric and paprika together tint the soup with warm tones, assuring it will provide the same comfort to your bellies on a gray and cold day.
I received this aesthetically pleasing piece of enameled cast iron cookware from ChefVentions last week and it has made my intent to cook the whole meal in just one pot really easy. All thanks to its practicability as an excellent vessel to properly brown the meat, onions and temper spices as well as to simmer the soup slow and gentle in a very steady heat.
You can check out all their available products at www.amazon.com/chefvention .
- 1 cup dried lentils
- 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 3 tbsp. chopped onions
- 1 tbsp. minced garlic
- ¼ tsp. turmeric powder
- 4 oz. or ½ cup minced pork
- ½ tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. + 1 tbsp. salt
- 20 fresh curry leaves
- 6-7 garlic cloves
- 3-4 fresh ginger slices
- 2 oz. dried bean threads or glass noodles
- ½ tsp. crushed red pepper
Pre-soaking the lentils and noodles
- Rinse the dried lentils well.
- Soak the lentils in few cups of water for about an hour and drain.
- Fill a separate bowl with lukewarm water.
- Soak the dried bean threads/ glass noodles for 15 minutes until they are pliable.
- Drain and cut the noodles into 4-inch length.
Searing the minced meat
- Heat the oil in a saucepan and stir-fry the chopped onions and minced garlic until they are soft and brown.
- Add the turmeric powder.
- Stir in the minced pork.
- Add paprika and season with 1 tsp. of salt.
- Sear until the meat is evenly brown.
Tempering the curry leaves
- Create a well in the center and add 10-12 fresh curry leaves.
- Cook until the oil is fragrant, for about 30 seconds.
Making the lentil soup
- Add the presoaked lentils, few cloves of garlic, ginger slices and 3 cups of water.
- Season with salt.
- Stir everything well, cover and bring the soup to a boil.
- After few minutes, remove the lid and skim off the scums floating on top.
- Cover again and simmer gently over medium-low heat for at least an hour, stirring few times during the hour.
- Adjust the water accordingly. The desired consistency is less porridgy and more soupy. Lentils must be soft but still intact.
- Add the pre-soaked noodles to the soup, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
- Top with more fresh curry leaves and spice it up with crushed chili peppers.
Burmese language lesson
- Pe-Ni-Lay Kyar-Zan Hin-Cho
- Pe-Ni-Lay –> Red Lentils
- Kyar-Zan -> Bean Threads/Vermicelli Noodles
- Hin-Cho -> Sweet Soup