Friday, April 8, 2011

Red Lentil Soup aka Curtis's Favorite Dal

It's just within the past year that I've really, really fallen in love with lentils. I try to rotate them into our menu once every two weeks or so--just like tofu stir fry. It's a nice meat alternative, very inexpensive, and very easy to make. Unlike most dried beans, lentils cook very quickly.

In my foray into lentils, I'm discovered the different kinds. French green lentils hold their shape better. Brown lentils are the traditional looking ones that turn kinda to mush when cooked to tenderness. Red lentils looks orange and also turn to mush. For this recipe you want the lentils that turn to mush, not the French lentils that hold their shape.

We loved this recipe (well, not the kids, but I'm don't always worry about them when it comes to lentils. It takes a couple of tries with a lentil recipe before they love one). I trimmed some cilantro from my herb garden to sprinkle on top.

This recipe serves 6.

Red Lentil Soup
from In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite by Melissa Clark

4 T olive oil
1 very large onion or 2 medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 T tomato paste
2 t cumin
1/2 t salt, plus more to taste
1/2 t pepper
pinch of chili powder or cayenne
2 qts chicken or vegetable broth
2 c water
2 c red lentils
2 large carrots or 4 small carrots, diced
juice of 1 lemon
1/3 c fresh cilantro, mint, or parsley, chopped

Heat the oil over high heat until hot in large soup pot. Add the onions and garlic. Saute until golden. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, salt, pepper, and chili powder. Saute an additional 2 minutes. Add the broth, water, lentils, and carrots. Bring to a simmer, partially cover the pot, and cook for 30 minutes, or until lentils are soft. Taste and add more salt, if necessary (if you are using homemade chicken stock, you will need more salt). Puree half of the soup in a food processor or blender (be sure to leave the center of the lid off to allow the steam to escape). Reheat the soup if necessary, then stir in lemon and desired fresh herb. Serve the soup lightly drizzled with your best olive oil, if desired.

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