Friday, March 4, 2011

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

Do you like to make soup? I usually make it at least once a week, especially in the colder months (come on, Spring!). And I like making it for a lot of reasons. It's usually pretty simple; chop some ingredients, throw them in a pot, add stock and let it cook. It's usually fairly healthy, at least the ones I choose to make. And often, it's mostly vegetarian; meaning the only meat is the chicken stock.

As I've said before, I'm always on the hunt for more meatless meals that Bob and I can agree on. I can't say I'm ever going to become a full fledged vegetarian, but I do realize there are many benefits to skipping meat every now and then. It's better for the environment and it's usually much cheaper to cook without it. Not to mention that more and more medical evidence indicates that it's healthier for us.

Today's soup comes from the talented Melissa Clark from her book In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite: 150 Recipes and Stories About the Food You Love.(Check out her site if you get a chance - the olive oil banana bread is  next up on my to-bake list) It fulfills all my basic soup requirements, plus the ingredients are ones that I typically have on hand. Which means I might just make it tonight instead of suggesting we go out to dinner.

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon
Adapted from Melissa Clark

serves: 4

notes: The original recipe serves 8, but that's a lot of soup for the two of us and my freezer is currently pretty full. So I halved it. Feel free to double it and freeze it for a rainy day (aka, an 'unmotivated to cook' day).

I couldn't find red lentils at my grocery store, but had better luck at a local bulk food store. (By the Pound, why don't you have a website?) I'm willing to bet that Indian grocery stores carry them, too - but then you'd be less likely to come home with that crazily addictive Australian red licorice. I'll leave it up to you to decide if that's a good or bad thing.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
pinch cayenne, or more to taste
4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup water
1 cup red lentils, rinsed and picked through for stones
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

  1. Make sure all your ingredients are prepped - veggies chopped, etc. This soup comes together fairly quickly.
  2. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over med-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions and cook until golden, about 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, cumin, salt, pepper and cayenne and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the broth, water, lentils and carrots.
  4. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat and partially cover pot, maintaining simmer. Cook until the lentils are soft, about 30 minutes.
  5. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. Remove approximately half the soup from the pot and using an immersion or regular blender, puree the soup. The texture should be still somewhat chunky and not completely smooth.
  6. Return the pureed soup to the pot and stir in lemon juice and cilantro or parsley, reheating soup if necessary. Serve, garnishing with additional cayenne and a drizzle of olive oil.
(Disclosure: The Melissa Clark book is an Amazon Affiliates link which means if you check it out and decide to buy it, I receive a small percentage. The money goes toward helping me purchase an actual domain name, something I really need to get moving on. Just an fyi.)


  1. Where do I find red lentils?

  2. Before the list of ingredients I noted that I couldn't find red lentils at my grocery store, altho the last time I checked, they were in stock. If you can't find them in the aisle with other grains (rice, beans), I would suggest checking out a bulk food store or an Indian grocery.