Comfort in a bowl – chock full of vegetables and classic Cuban onion and garlic essence with a kick. This is a robust soup with plenty of vegetables and spiced up with traditional Cuban flavors. Garnished with a lemon-crema and irresistible baked plantains, this dish is warming and full of nutrition!
Cuban Lentil Soup With Baked Plantains and Lemon Crema [Vegan, Gluten-Free]
For the Soup:
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups onion, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch dice
- 2 ribs celery, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch slices
- 1 cup fresh carrots, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch dice
- 1 tablespoon fresh garlic, peeled and minced
- 3 medium bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons salt-free sazón seasoning (recipe below)
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes in juice
- 7 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups sprouted lentils
- 1/3 cup fresh orange juice (squeeze juice from 2 small clementines)
- 2 dashes cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
For the Baked Plantains:
- 1 ripe plantain, cut into 1/2-inch slices (see notes)
- Oil, for baking
For the Roasted Chickpeas:
- 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
- 2 teaspoons oil
- 2 teaspoons salt-free sazón seasoning
For the Lemon Crema:
- 16 ounces silken tofu
- 1/2 teaspoon ground flax seeds
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon rind, grated
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste
- 2 pinches natural cane sugar
For the Salt-Free Sazón Seasoning:
- 2 tablespoons onion powder
- 1 tablespoons ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoons cumin seed, toasted and ground
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest, dried and ground
- 2 tablespoons dehydrated garlic, granulated
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon celery seed, ground
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons annatto seeds, ground
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
To Make the Salt-Free Sazón Seasoning:
- Mix all seasoning ingredients together. Yields 1/2 cup. Store in an airtight, glass container in a cool, dark place.
To Make the Lemon Crema:
- Place the silken tofu in a fine mesh strainer in the sink. Press with your hands to remove some of its liquid. Use paper towels, press over the tofu, releasing more of its liquid. Repeat with more paper towels, removing as much liquid as you can.
- Add the tofu with remaining ingredients and purée in a blender, low to high speed until well blended, about 1 minute.
- Place the mixture in a clean bowl and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
To Make the Baked Plantains:
- Slice a very ripe plantain 1/2-inch thick. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush 2 teaspoons neutral oil over and under slices.
- Cook in a preheated 400°F oven until slightly golden, about 5 minutes. Turn over with tongs, brush with 1 teaspoon more oil and continue cooking until golden and softened, about 5-8 minutes longer. Cut into halved chunks.
To Make the Roasted Chickpeas:
- Rinse 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas, place them on a paper towel to dry. Rub gently to remove any skins and discard them.
- Place chickpeas on a small baking pan and cook in a preheated 400°F oven for 3 minutes to dry them out.
- Add 2 teaspoons oil and 2 teaspoons seasoning, rub in well. Roasted in oven, shaking once,until just a little crispy, about 10 minutes.
To Make the Soup:
- Heat oil in a heavy, non-reactive 3-quart pot, add onions and sauté over low-medium heat for 5 minutes until translucent, but not colored. Add celery, carrots and bay leaves, stir and cook for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and seasoning and stir one minute more, to release the flavors.
- Add the tomatoes, vegetable broth, sprouted lentils and orange juice. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer about 35 minutes - stirring occasionally until the lentils are very tender.
- Cool slightly and purée 1/3 of the soup in a blender, returning the puree to the pot. Give a big stir.
- Taste the soup and salt if necessary — this will depend on the saltiness of your vegetable broth. Add 2 dashes of cayenne pepper and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, stir well.
- Garnish with lemon crema, plantains, and roasted chickpeas.
Ripe plantains have peels that are almost completely black. However, the firm, ripe ones called for in this recipe are black and yellow. Roll the unpeeled plantains on the counter to soften them. If you don't have sprouted lentils, soak your lentils. Not just “overnight” as many recipes call for, but for 1-3 days. The longer they are soaked the easier they are to digest — do so in very warm, filtered water.