RECIPE: Red Lentil Soup with Lemon - New York Times

cookingrvcJanuary 12, 2008

This recipe appeared in the NY Times this past Wednesday. Made it with a little less garlic (one of my friends has a hard time with garlic)and used cayneene instead of chili powder (had none) and served as a side to panini's (mozzarella and prosciutto with sauteed mushrooms).

It was nice and light and good out of the pot, the lemon and cilantro make it outstanding. I suspect it would be just as good with basil instead of cilantro.

This makes enough for 4 people as a side, so double the recipe if making for main dish or to feed more people.


Red Lentil Soup With Lemon

Time: 45 minutes

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.

1. 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.

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

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder if desired.

Yield: 4 servings.

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Thanks, Sue, sound good to me and I actually have all of the ingredients in the house :)

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 12:05PM
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I just made another pot and it is so good !

Maybe you friend picked me up a couple of bags of red lentils and they are quite different from the ones I bought at the health food store.

The ones from the health food store were orange, but the ones my friend got me were brownish red. Is this because the orange ones are hulled?

Thanks, Sue

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 12:27PM
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Ok I found the answer. The orange ones are skinned.

This might make a difference...I'll see which comes out better next time I make a batch.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 12:32PM
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Carol Schmertzler Siegel

Glad to know it's good, I saw it too, and put it in my to try file! Thanks, Sue!

Soup weather tonight! Weather reports say snow for us!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 3:01PM
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Thanks for posting this... Just made it tonight and it was delicious, soothing and subtle yet still very flavorful. I made it with parsley, and the parsley was a nice bright note, but don't add too much as that parsley is still a strong flavor.

Made it with sauteed kale on the side and dipped toasted sourdough in the soup. So good!


    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 7:51PM
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Yes, it is a delicate soup. Parsley sounds like a nice alternative.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 9:09PM
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Copied and pasted here, thanks Sue!


    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 1:40PM
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Oooh, meant to mention that I shredded the carrot on the large holes of a grater instead of dicing, which I thought blended into the texture of the soup really well. This recipe is a new favorite...

    Bookmark   January 17, 2008 at 9:02PM
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Although I am not opposed to chunks of veggies, I did find that the diced carrot was a little out of place. Your idea sounds grate :)

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 12:02PM
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I just made this and found it thin. I haven't pureed any of it yet, but was there 1 qt of broth AND 2 cups of water? The ingredient list didn't list any water...

3. 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..


    Bookmark   January 19, 2008 at 6:41PM
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Hi Maureen --

Yes, while water wasn't listed in the ingredient list, I think I added all of it... Maybe I added 1.5 cups. I did find the soup thickened up when it was pureed, but mine was thicker than I had expected even to begin with, as I also had initially it looked like a lot of liquid for just the one cup of lentils...


    Bookmark   January 19, 2008 at 8:06PM
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I'll go back and taste test those lentils before I puree some of it. I think it really does need the lemon and cilantro but I'm not going to use it till Monday so I'll save the cilantro till then. thanks Emily.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2008 at 8:55PM
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This sounds good. I only have black lentils. I will be on the look out for the red.

Thank you!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 8:42AM
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I agree that while cooking it seems a lot of liquid for the lentils, but it works and mine has always turned out nice. Not too thick, not too thin, but I tend to cook it longer than the prescribed 30 minutes.

For those who may have a 'problem' with legumes, you can add a half teaspoon of vinegar to counteract the affects of the beans. A friend of mine told me this was a trick he learned from a guy who cooks at his football tailgates.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 9:27AM
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Sue, it was to be for dinner tonight and even after pureeing, and cooking down for about another 30 min, it is still very thin. When I say vt, I mean like the consistency we get in a lot of Indian restaurants round here, so I can understand that. It does taste nicely tangy and well flavored. Sadly my friend is ill...congestive heart failure...but this is not an uncommon thing for her, tho just the sound of it scares the wits out of me.

I think I may add somthing to it to give it more substance. It's too cold for thin-ish tonight! Maureen

    Bookmark   January 21, 2008 at 5:12PM
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AH....I get why this isn't what I expected and why it is "light" as the writer notes. From the NYT story on the soup..

As I figured, the ingredient list called for red lentils (check), broth (check), onion (check), cumin (check), garlic, lemons and chili powder (check, check, check). Then came some surprises: dried mint, fresh tomatoes and bulgur -- none of which were in the cupboard.

As determined as I was to make the soup, I was equally determined not to leave the house. It was cold and rainy, and there was only so much I was willing to sacrifice for a nascent crush.

Still, I had my heart set on lentils. Clearly, there would need to be some compromises if this was going to work.

The tomatoes were easy to get around. I used a fat dollop of tomato paste instead, sautéing it with the onions and garlic to give it a sweeter, more intense flavor. I also added a chopped carrot to compensate for the lost vegetable matter and to deepen the color.

The bulgur was harder to swap out. I considered rice, buckwheat groats, even steel-cut oats before deciding to leave it out altogether and double the lentils. I had plenty, and weren't they the point after all?

Then I added some broth to the pot and set it all to simmer. Half an hour later, my lentil soup was bubbling hot and ready. I squeezed in some lemon for vibrancy, drizzled on some good olive oil for richness, and to substitute for the mint, floated a handful of chopped cilantro over the surface.

I was a little nervous about digging in. With all my changes, would the soup live up to my expectations?

In fact, it was even better. Lighter and more brothy than the bulgur original, it had a buoyant, lemony disposition grounded by a profound cumin and chili backbone. It was the perfect lentil soup, at least for me. Bright, deep, compelling, and easily accessible: if I kept a supply of red lentils around, I could make the soup in under an hour whenever my heart desired.

I have been making it ever since.

No sign of the original recipe she received from her friend.

I'm going to make some grain to add tonight, and next time I make her recipe I am going to double HER amount of lentils. All our mileage varies, and this certainly did have a fresher taste than most lentil soups. I can see it being gorgeous in little expresso cups or shot glasses.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2008 at 5:31PM
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