Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Red Lentil Soup

The weather isn't the only thing frightful outside. With the economy, the mid-winter blues, and the world in general, it's enough to make anyone run for the hills. Unfortunately, it's too rainy and I'm too tired to bother.

Enter red lentil soup. It's a dish that works for this time of year, meaning it's warm, easy, and cheap. The recipe I keep coming back to is from Melissa Clark, and was published in the Times a year ago. It's so healthy and so delicious that it's a crime not to make this at least once a month. I have a backlog of red lentils that I must use up, and this recipe will be on heavy rotation until I smell the start of spring. Last night I served this alongside a salad and the delightful cheese toast that the Wednesday Chef featured a few months ago. It was the kind of quiet, simple, warm dinner that makes you happy to stay home.

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon
(from the New York Times, January 8, 2008)
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.

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.

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

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.

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. (I puréed the whole thing, which is why my soup looks a bit thin, although it thickens a bit on subsequent days.)

Stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder if desired.


MaggieB said...

I love that mug (and the soup too!) Is it a line from Bennington Pottery?


Rebecca Federman said...

Thanks Maggie,

The mug is from a wonderful store on Block Island, R.I called Block Island Blue Pottery. I have a ton of bowls and mugs and serving dishes from them.