Lentil Soup with Plantains
Cheesecloth-wrapped bundles of garlic, herbs, and spices infuse this soup with flavor. The process of straining the broth and then adding it to the lentils lets you adjust the soup’s thickness—make it thick and hearty for a main dish or thin and brothy for a first course.
1. Cut half of onion into chunks and other half into dice. Mince 3 cloves garlic; keep 3 remaining cloves garlic whole.
2. Tie onion chunks, whole garlic cloves, cinnamon stick, and cloves in square of cheesecloth. Tie fresh thyme in separate square of cheesecloth.
3. Bring broth and cheesecloth bundles to a boil in stockpot. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes. Stir in lentils, and cook 15 minutes more. Strain lentils, discard onion bundle, and set lentils aside; reserve cooking liquid and thyme bundle.
4. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add diced onions, and sauté 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; add plantains, carrots, and salt. Sauté 15 minutes, or until plantains are golden. Stir in minced garlic and allspice; cook 5 minutes more. Add lentils, reserved liquid, and thyme bundle; simmer 15 minutes. Remove and discard thyme bundle. Stir in half of cilantro. Ladle soup into bowls, and garnish with remaining cilantro.