Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lentil Soup

The first time I tried to cook with lentils, they were downright awful. Okay, slight exaggeration. They were just completely tasteless, totally boring. They were nothing like the first time I had ever had lentils -- a delicious veggie and lentil soup I had at a vegan potluck dinner.

I vowed to try again. After all, they are really good for you. I quickly discovered my problem was I was using brown lentils. They're the most difficult to make tasty, absolute flavorsucks. What I needed were red lentils. After a horrified trip to Whole Foods ($7 for a tiny bag?!), I headed to the Indian grocery in Springfield where an enormous 5 lb. bag only cost me something like $4.

And from there, my love of red lentils began. I was somewhat surprised to discover that when cooked they turn a dull yellow. No matter. Throw in some tomato and the color is restored.

This soup is amazing. I mean so incredibly good you can actually forget for a little while that it's good for you.

I recommend serving it warm with a dollop of yogurt. Or take some day old bread, cut into pieces, toss with olive oil and bake for 10 or so minutes to make croutons. Or really what you'll want to do is eat two bowls -- one each way for comparison. It's like a requirement.

A few notes on preparation: the recipe calls for you to toast whole spices and then grind them in a spice grinder. The freshly roasted cumin and coriander do make the soup sing. But if you don't want to mess with whole spices (or don't have a spice grinder), you could sub ground cumin and ground coriander.

Adapted from The New York Times

Eat Rating: Awesome. It's difficult to put the spoon down.
Difficulty: Easy. To make it smooth, you'll need to puree with either a hand blender (or actual blender). If you don't have one, just leave it chunky. It's good that way too.

2 tbsp peanut oil
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
2 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
2 tsp curry powder
1 28-oz can of diced tomatoes, with juice
2 1/4 cups red lentils
8 cups water, vegetable or chicken stock (LN: I did half water-half veggie stock)
1 lime, juiced

In a large stockpot, heat the oil. Saute the onion for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute. Add the spices, stirring to coat the onions and garlic. Add the tomatoes and their juice, bringing to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes until the tomatoes are softened.

Add the lentils and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes. You want the lentils softened. They should be a yellow-ish color and easy to mash.

Puree with a hand blender or in batches in the blender. Right before serving, stir in the lime juice. Garnish with yogurt or croutons.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad someone shares my love of lentil soup! I lived off of it (the green variety) in college, though I never did anything this elaborate. My roommates claimed it was the source of my powers.