Around the World in Lentil Soup

Lovely lentils

Lentil soup, let me count the ways. Soup featuring the humble lentil is a vegetarian cliché, I know. But, it is a cliché for a reason. Like tofu, like other legumes, lentils easily take on any flavor profile. So, I make lentil minestrone, Mexican lentil . . . how about curried lentil soup . . . or French?

I added a new one to the repertoire last night – Spicy Moroccan Lentil Soup with Tomatoes and Herbs. I was very indecisive about dinner. It must be the change in season or a low-yield trip to the farmers market (you have to get there before 10 around here or you are stuck with sweet potatoes and scallions) because I find myself at a loss for dinner ideas this week. Last night, I did something crazy . . . crazy for someone who has a tendency to control . . . I picked up A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen and opened it up. That’s the dish I made for dinner. Call it fate or kismet or whatever, but I had almost all the ingredients I needed for the soup.

This recipe as written is easy – measure, chop and dump. I made it a little more complicated to develop more flavor. It is still simple. The prep time is quick, but it does take some time to cook so plan accordingly.

Where to next? I think Thailand is nice this time of year.

Spicy Moroccan Lentil Soup with Tomatoes and Herbs

adapted from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen

Four generous main course servings

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion finely chopped

4 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

4 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground tumeric

pinch of cayenne, or more to taste

1 1/4 cups French lentils (the original recipe called for brown lentils, which I did not have)

1/4 cup red lentils (these can be omitted – I added them to thicken the soup a bit)

6 cups water

1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)

Salt, to taste (I think I added about 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt)

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large soup pot. I use a 6 quart Dutch oven. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and saute until soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Lower heat to medium and add ginger, garlic and scallions. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the spices – paprikas, cumin, tumeric, cayenne (if using) – and stir for a minute more. Add the lentils, water, tomatoes and salt.

Simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the lentils are soft and the soup has thickened. Add the parsley and cilantro. Taste and add salt if needed. The flavors should pop . . . make sure it is seasoned or it will be bland.

I served the soup with packaged garlic naan.


Me:  A- (It has good flavor, but I still wanted a little more.)

Scott:  A (“Definitely an A.”)

Luca:  B+

Alia:  A+ (I am not sure how seriously you should take this. She did finish her soup, which says something.)




2 responses

  1. Somewhere I have an Ethiopian red lentil soup … Soooo yummy! Can’t wait to get home and finally find it in a cookbook again. It has been quite the challenge this year cooking without recipes!

    • Still . . . pretty cool to have a challenge like that. I am sure it can get old, but I like the idea of improvising. Reminds me of when we were in Kazakhstan. I made a really good roasted eggplant pasta there . . . I still remember that meal because I made it up and it was good. 🙂

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