I make many versions of this soup with whatever is available in my fridge that week, but this particular variation is always a favorite. The earthiness of the puy lentil lends itself wonderfully to the smokey and spicy Mexican flavors in this recipe. Achiote seeds can be hard to find, but they add to the lovely color of the soup. Blood oranges are currently in season and they add the perfect brightness to balance out the fragrant spices in this dish. The blood red color doesn't hurt either!
Served with some crunchy sauteed chard, this is a perfect dish for dinner and then leftover lunch the next day. You will be the envy of all your coworkers.
Rehydrate the sundried tomatoes in hot water. While this is happening, use a small pan to toast the cumin, coriander, whole black peppercorn, and achiote seeds. The spices are done when your kitchen is filled with their wonderful fragrance and they have darkened slightly in color. Grind to a powder in a spice/coffee grinder. In the same pan, roast the garlic, skin still on, over medium high heat. You will need to turn the garlic a couple times to get each side. The garlic will be done when parts of it has blackened and the meat inside is soft. Peel and mince.
In a food processor, chop up the sundried tomatoes and chipotle peppers. To help the process along, use about half of the blood orange juice and some of the liquid that the tomatoes rehydrated in. Set aside.
Add a thin layer of grapseed oil to the bottom of a 4 quart pot or dutch oven. Over medium high heat, sautee the onions until they are just translucent. Then, one at a time add the minced garlic, minced ginger, toasted spices, cinnamon and bay leaves. After each addition, sautee for a minute or so before adding the next ingredient. Add your chipotle pepper mixture. Cook for a few minutes until it has darkened and is super fragrant. Then throw in the celery and carrots and cook for about 5 minutes. Finally, add in the fire roasted tomatoes, juice and all. Make sure to add a bit of salt after each major layer of ingredients.
Wash your lentils in a bowl and discard any bits that have floated to the top of the water. Add them to your pot and mix in thoroughly so that every lentil is covered in the delicious spices. Cover with water, leaving about 2 inches at the top of the pot, bring to a boil. Taste and add salt if needed. Turn down the heat to a simmer and cook covered for about an hour. The last 20 minutes of cooking should be done uncovered.
When the soup is almost ready, give your chard a good rinse in the sink. Discard any parts of the stem that is too tough, but try to keep as much as you can. Cut the stems into small chunks and roughly chiffonade the leaves. Sautee in a pan with a thin layer of grapeseed oil and a pinch of salt.
Once the soup has thickened and the lentils are soft but not mushy, turn off the heat. Adjust the salt if necessary. To finish, add in the apple cider vinegar and the rest of the blood orange juice.