Monday, January 21, 2008

Red Lentil-Apricot Soup

One of our favorite restaurants is That's Life Soup. The owner has a simple and seemingly successful business model: make four or five large pots of soup each weekday morning; sell soup, sandwiches, and salad all day; focus on lunch; sell whatever's left over for dinner. I was lucky enough to go to this restaurant once or twice before giving up gluten--I got to try some of her lovely, grilled sandwiches (think: manchego and mushrooms). And when I was noticeably pregnant this past summer, I got free soup. What a great sale: free soup for mamas-to-be!

After being diagnosed with DH, I ran into the owner on the street one day and asked if many of the soups she cooked were gluten-free. She looked at me in a somewhat annoyed way and said, "there are really too many dietary restrictions for me to take them all into account when I'm planning my menus." Fine, I thought, I didn't want to eat at your stupid restaurant anymore anyway. Which, of course, was a complete lie.

A few months later the Science Teacher and I went back to the restaurant and, lo and behold, all of the soups were marked if they were gluten-free, lactose-free, vegetarian, and vegan. And every time I've been there since, there has always been a gluten-free option. Hmm. Seems like quite a few customers had been asking about their dietary restrictions. The lesson I take from this? Always ask about gluten-free food, because when enough customers ask, owners listen.

During two recent trips, I found a red lentil soup with apricots on the menu. The first time it was so delicious that I went out and bought red lentils with the intention of immediately recreating the soup at home. One of the great qualities of the chef is that she keeps her cookbooks on a shelf in the small dining room. Anyone can walk right up and check out what's in the soups she makes. This recipe is adapted from the Armenian-Apricot Soup in The Soup Peddler's Slow and Difficult Soups. Note: The second time I ordered this soup, it was too sweet--if you're tempted to play, remember, a few apricots go a long way.

Red-Lentil Apricot Soup
serves 4

1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/3 c dried apricots
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1.5 c red lentils
5 c chicken stock
1 c diced tomatoes
2 tbsp lemon juice

Saute the onion, garlic, and dried apricots in the olive oil until the onions are soft. Add the spices and saute for 30-60 sec.

Add the red lentils and stock. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat. Simmer for about 30 min. Add the tomatoes. Cook for 10 min. Puree. Add lemon juice and serve.


Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

What a fun restaurant. I love the simple concept.

I always try to remember what you're talking about, too--even if I get a snooty response or a blank response from a restaurant staff member, it plants a seed in that person's head that gluten-free is something customers want. In Seattle and Vancouver (where we just vacationed), it seemed like every restaurant had a clue, but in Atlanta, that's not the case.

Sheltie Girl said...

This sounds very interesting. I'm so glad that the restaurant fixed up the menu. It will make it so much easier to eat there in the future.

Sheltie Girl @ Gluten A Go Go