from our Carpenteria, CA family vacation, August 2011
First, make a fragrant broth with the following ingredients:
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 large carrot (peeled and grated)
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
5 whole sprigs (stems and leaves) cilantro
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 cups chicken broth
juice of 1/2 small lime
1/4 teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, salt and black pepper (if you like it spicey, you can also add 1/4 tsp of (optional) cayenne pepper)
1/8 teaspoon of Sumac (optional) (you can substitute Curry Powder)
Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer about 30-60 minutes (until vegetables are soft). Remove the cilantro stems (if leaves fell off, that’s OK, you can leave them). Mash all the vegetables until fine and incorporated evenly throughout the broth. Add more chicken broth to bring total volume to 2 cups.
When the broth/veggie mixture is finished – THEN add 1 cup dried lentils (I prefer the orange colored ones). Cook at low temperature until liquid is absorbed and lentils are soft (add more chicken broth, if needed, to allow enough liquid to be absorbed – do not let the lentils dry out and burn on the bottom). The final consistency will be like a thick oatmeal. Can be served plain as a main or side dish ( you can also add a dollop of sour cream or greek yogurt just before serving).