Lamb Chops in Curried Red Lentil Soup

I am both blessed and cursed to be forced to cook for just me on a regular basis.  My better half has always traveled, and while for years I cooked for the kids and me, the kids are off cooking for themselves now.  These days, it’s often just “the babies” and me for dinner.

“The Babies”

You might remember or know the story:  There was a time when I was so relieved at not having to cook for a big group all the time that I just made eggs and toast.  It wasn’t long, however, before I got pretty tired of that and began to look around and start cooking exactly what I wanted for dinner.  Why not?  In fact, the kids talked me into writing a separate blog about it.   If you’re a regular reader, you know I blog elsewhere.  Otherwise, check out dinnerplace dot blogspot dot com. 

Stop in at The Groveland Tap:  Fairview/St. Clair — Saint Paul, Minnesota

It doesn’t mean there aren’t nights when I don’t feel like cooking (or cleaning up) and just bring home a great meal from the Groveland Tap–our fine family bar and grill one block down. (We can take the babies to the Tap and sit outside in good weather.) And, of course I sometimes go out with a friend — but most times I do cook.  Often I’m working on something for the soup cookbook or for one of blogs (this gives me real reason to cook), but there are times when I just feel like making myself something scrumptious.

Lamb Chops in Curried Red Lentil Soup is sort of an amalgam of a couple of those nights.  Many friends and/or testers have eaten  my red lentil soup; it’ll be in the upcoming book.  (In fact, I have made it for an ecumenical Taizé prayer dinner; the soup itself is vegan.) It’s still being tweaked, so I won’t include the recipe here, but  provide a link to a similar soup.  You can also bring soup home from the deli or your local soup nazi.  Anyway,  I had made a big pot for Souper Sunday, a fundraiser at Prospect Park United Methodist (where I work as a choir director), and also had some beautiful Colorado (the best) lamb chops that needed cooking.  The frig held nothing that sounded good as a side for lamb chops, but I kept eying that pot of soup. The aromatics with the heat, tomatoes, lentils, and curry are natural companions to lamb.  I’m partial to rosemary with lamb and, oddly, the flavors melded beautifully.  No arguments were heard between the spices or in my mouth.

If you can get it–and it’s hard to find–buy Colorado lamb.  Here in Saint Paul, Kowalski’s, a small local grocery chain sells only Colorado lamb.  You can easily cook frozen lamb chops; it will just take a couple of extra minutes.

Chops in already-cooked soup make for a truly fast dinner; lamb chops are cooked in just a few minutes. This is a meal you’ll need spoon, fork, and knife for–but I encourage you to pick up the lamb chops at some point. (Red meat is quite a treat.) Get your hands dirty and don’t waste a bite; the tenderest morsels are always closest to the bone.  You can hold the chop by its bone and dip it into the soup if you like.  A bit of crumbled feta is the perfect topping.  While curry and red wine aren’t always companions, I had no trouble putting them together here.  I drank some leftover California cab and was a happy Minnesotan.  While I loved this all by myself, it would make a tasty meal for friends.  (Add some olives for starters, a bit of bread –grilled pita?– with the soup, lemon sorbet for dessert.)  Try this:

Set the table and pour the wine before you cook. You’ll be ready to eat soon.

lamb chops in curried red lentil soup
  serves 2 (two chops each) or 4 (one chop each) with 2 cups of soup for each serving

Hot red lentil soup (4-8 cups)
4 lamb chops, room temperature (I like loin or rib chops, but any will do.)
Olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground or cracked black pepper
1-2 teaspoon(s) finely minced and crushed dried rosemary, to taste and optional
2 tablespoons crumbled feta for each bowl

Colorado loin lamb chops

Heat stove top grill (or outdoor gas/charcoal) over high heat for 2-3 minutes. (You can use a cast iron skillet, too.)  Meantime, drizzle the chops with a little olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and rosemary, if using.  Grill for 2-3 minutes without moving, turn, and grill another 2-3 for medium-rare.* As you turn them, do let the chops cook briefly on their sides to cook off/crisp up some of the fat.  You don’t want these too done, as the soup is hot and may cook them just a little more.  Remove to a plate and let rest 2-3 minutes.

Into warm pasta bowls, ladle about two cups of the hot lentil soup.  Add a chop or two for each (as well as any juices on the plate) depending on how big of a portion you’d like, and top with crumbled feta.  Pass pepper grinder and hot sauce at the table.

USDA Cooking Temperatures

Sing a new song,