Curried Red Lentil Soup

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Here in the Bay Area we’ve had our usual June gloom weather and no matter how many sips of tropical cocktails I have, the gray sky always wins out. So I decided to make a big pot of soup today. Every Greek I know grew up eating lentil soup during lent. For the casual Greek Orthodox observer, that could mean once a year. For others more devout, it could be a weekly meal. Most families, though, enjoy it throughout the year as a quick and hearty meal. I love it but am the only one in my household who cares for it.

In fact, I love lentils of all shapes and sizes. Pebble-looking French lentils, black beluga lentils, red and yellow lentils—even the lowly brown lentil used to make a traditional Lenten Greek Lentil Soup—are in my dry goods drawer waiting to get a turn on the stove. I decided to make a red lentil soup today, adding Indian curry to the mix in the hopes that my curry loving, lentil hating husband would have a bowl. I convinced him to give the above bowl of soup a try. His remark: “The flavors are really good, but it would REALLY be good with some sausage”. Want any more? “No thanks. Still tastes like lentil soup.” I can’t guarantee that my recipe will convert a lentil hater, but there’s no harm in trying, especially with this recipe.

Curried Red Lentil Soup

Split red lentils cook very quickly and can turn to mush if you aren’t careful. Split red lentils can be found at specialty, Italian, and Indian markets.

2 cups split red lentils

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (about 1 small onion)

1 cup finely chopped carrots (about 3 small carrots)

1 cup finely chopped red new potatoes (about 3 small to medium potatoes)

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger

2 Tbsp. finely chopped jalapeno

1 15 oz. can chopped tomato in their juice

6 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian version)

1 cup water

2 tsp. curry powder

1 dried bay leaf

Cilantro

Sour Cream

1. Rinse lentils in a stainer; set aside to drain.

2. Place medium stockpot over high heat, add oil, onion, carrots, and potatoes. Reduce heat to medium and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, jalapeno, tomatoes, and lentils; stir to combine. Increase heat to high and add broth, water, curry powder, and bay leaf.

3. When soup comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaf and discard.

4. Serve soup with a garnish of chopped cilantro and a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt.

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