Borrowing an idea from the cuisine of India, we saute lentils until crunchy before they're sprinkled over the top of this curried low-fat sweet potato soup. Tasters in the Times Test Kitchen loved them--"better than croutons," one said.
Soak the lentils in water overnight to soften them a bit, then drain well and pat them dry with a paper towel so they do not spatter when added to the hot wok. A small amount of oil is needed to crisp the lentils. Saute them over low heat so they do not burn before getting crisp. Drain well after frying and pat off excess oil with paper towels to keep the fat to a minimum.
The fried lentils also make a great snack on their own and are much lower in fat than nuts.
I prefer the smaller orange sweet potatoes, not the larger, darker ones, because they give the soup a brighter color. The soup has a light curry flavor; if you like, more curry powder may be added to taste.
CURRIED SWEET POTATO SOUP
1/4 cup lentils
Nonstick cooking spray
1 tablespoon oil
2 pounds small sweet potatoes
Nonstick cooking spray
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 quart nonfat chicken broth
Rinse lentils well under running water, then soak in bowl of water to cover overnight. Drain and pat dry on paper towels.
Spray wok or small skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Add oil and heat over low heat until hot. Add drained lentils and saute until they are browned and crisp, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with salt while frying. Drain on paper towels and pat off any excess oil with paper towels. Set aside.
Roast potatoes in shallow baking pan at 400 degrees until fork-tender in center, about 1 hour, 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand few minutes until cool enough to handle. Quarter and remove skins.
Spray bottom and sides of skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Add onion and garlic and saute until lightly browned. Stir in curry powder, paprika and cumin and continue to saute 1 minute to bring out flavors. Stir in chicken broth. Bring to boil. Puree sweet potatoes in food processor or blender, adding hot broth until mixture is smooth. Serve sprinkled with Lentil Garnish and chopped cilantro.
Makes 6 (1-cup) servings.
Each serving contains about:
243 calories; 451 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 48 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams protein; 2.11 grams fiber.