Sunday, May 18, 2008

Red Lentil Soup

I know. May in Tennessee is not technically soup season. However, I came across this recipe a few months ago in the NY Times. At the time, I had thought you could only find red lentils in ethnic markets. While I live about a mile from Nolensville Rd., the meca of ethnic food in Nashville we've been very very very busy this spring and have had a hard time scheduling another errand. About two weeks ago, a random woman asked me to help her find quinoa at Whole Foods (I apparently look like I know my carbs....don't know how I should feel about that). I led her to the bulk aisle and found quinoa in the top row. And HARK, right next to it was red lentils. I am constantly buying things from the bulk section and I never noticed them because the top row is above my head. So I bought some and made this soup.

This soup actually works in warm weather because of the flavors. Lemon and cilantro freshen it up. B loves lentil soup, but I generally have mixed feelings about it. The color of normal lentils is less than appealing, and I find many versions are too thick and rely too much on the flavor of bacon with no other complexity. This soup was really incredible. It fixed all of my lentil soup "Issues". I encourage all of you to make it. Serve with some grilled pita or naan and a side salad made from this season's fresh greens and radishes.

Source: Melissa Clark, NY Times

3 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of ground chili powder or cayenne, more to taste
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup red lentils
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
Juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro.


1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.

2. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chili powder or cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.

3. Add broth, 2 cups water, lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.

4. Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée half the soup then add it back to pot. Soup should be somewhat chunky.

5. Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder if desired.


Anonymous said...

So, many good recipes on your blog - the soup and the mango salad - YUM!

Lannae said...

Anyday, even a hot mid-TN day is a good day for soup! I really do like lentils and lentil soups. Why don't I ever make it? Huh, with your recipe, and all the ingredients I love, I don't have any excuses anymore.