Nopales, or Prickly Pears, are the flat pads of edible cacti. They have a lovely lemony flavor and lightly thicken the soup much as okra would. Here is a Mexican style lentil soup with nopales.
- 2 cactus pads or nopales
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp Mexican oregano
- 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1-12 oz can tomato sauce or pasta sauce
- 1 c dry lentils, washed and drained
- 4 c vegetable broth
- 4 c water
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp sea salt (less if using salty broth)
- Wash nopales and run a knife at a slant down their surfaces including the edges to remove all spines. (No need to peel them!) Cut into 1 inch matchsticks.
- Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion, poblano and nopales. Saute 5 minutes. Add garlic and oregano and saute another minute.
- Stir in the carrot, tomato sauce, lentils, broth, water, pepper, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer 2 hours or until the lentils are tender. Stir in the salt. Serve hot.