I first tried lentils last winter with the sausage and lentil soup, and I've been enjoying them ever since - in salads, as one-pot meals with veggies and a protein, and most recently, in vegetarian pot pies! I've always been intrigued by red lentils because as fickle as it sounds, I think they are so pretty! However, they cook faster than green or brown lentils, which makes them a poor choice for salads - they get mushy and lose all texture. This is what makes them ideal for soups, as they kind of "melt" into the broth and thicken the soup.
I was really intrigued by this recipe as I read In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite. I had never thought to pair lemon with lentils, but it makes perfect sense - lentils are earthy, and the bright acidity of lemon is a perfect match. After I read this recipe, I couldn't get this soup out of my head, and I NEEDED it as soon as possible. Which led to me on a wild goose chase to four grocery stores looking for red lentils. I did eventually find them, and as I drove home, I thought to myself that "this soup had better be good."
And boy, was it! It is flavored with tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, and garlic, and then finished with cilantro and lemon. It is comforting and earthy, with a nice freshness from the lemon, and a spicy kick at the finish. I served this with toasted pita, which was perfect for dipping.
I'm submitting this post to Branny's Charity Souper Bowl blogging event - she is making a contribution to the ASPCA for every soup entry through February 6th. Though we don't have any pets, I absolutely support this endeavor and this charity. Thanks, Branny!
Red Lentil Soup with Lemon
adapted from In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite, by Melissa Clark
- 4 Tbs olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbs tomato paste
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus additional to taste
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp chili powder
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 cups red lentils
- 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
- juice of 1 lemon, plus more for serving
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Saute an additional 2 minutes.
Add the broth, 2 cups water, the lentils, and the carrots. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer until the lentils are soft and breaking down, 30 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Use an immersion blender to puree the soup to acheive a chunky consistency (or transfer half to a blender or food processor, puree, and return to the pot).
Stir in the lemon juice and cilantro. Serve the soup drizzled with olive oil and additional lemon slices. Dust lightly with chili powder, if desired.