As much as I prefer whole beans, I never can resist lentils. They are especially handy when you don’t think to soak beans the night before dinner service. Wishing to incorporate more vegetables into my diet, soups are the perfect solution. Spicy, hearty and earthy, this soup will not fail to please. Served with a grain, you are in for one fine meal.
Yet another recipe adapted from “Silk Road Cooking.” This book has become a staple in my kitchen and it should be a mainstay for every vegetarian who seeks wholesome, creative and traditional meals with a modern twist.
Madras Red Lentil Soup
2 1/2 cups of red lentils, sorted and well rinsed
4 tablespoons of butter, ghee or oil
1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
a generous handful of dried curry leaves
1 onion, finely chopped
1 leek, both green and white parts, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced or crushed
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
3 – 4 fresh green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 teaspoons of sea salt
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
1/4 teaspoon of asafetida
6 cups of water
1 carrot, finely chopped
a handful of kale, chopped
2 tablespoons of rice flour, diluted in 2 cups of water
2 cups of tomatoes, finely diced
juice from two limes
fresh cilantro, chopped for garnishing
Heat the oil or butter in a medium large pan over medium heat. When hot, add the fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and coriander seeds. Stir and fry for 1 minute or until the mustard seeds turn grey and begin to splutter and pop. Toss in the curry leaves, stir, and then add the onions and leeks and cook until they are soft and translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, chilies, turmeric, cayenne, sugar, salt and asafetida. Stir and fry for another minute.
Add the red lentils and 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
Mix in the rice flour and water, tomatoes, lime juice, kale and carrot. Again, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and cover and simmer for another 15 minutes. Partially blend the soup with an emersion blender or in a food processor in batches, adding more water or broth as necessary.
Garnish with fresh cilantro or parsley, a sprinkle of saffron and a few strips of fresh chilies.
More lentil dishes from Lisa’s Vegetarian Kitchen:
Spicy Lentil Qunioa Loaf
Greek Lentil Soup
Chickpea and Lentil Salad with Zucchini and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Mixed Lentil Dal
Green Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk
On the top of the reading stack: How can I decide when I have so many books?!
Audio Accompaniment: Arvo Part