|Roasted Red Lentil Soup|
Oct 4th, 2004
Okay, this is the last recipe from Spice Week. I really like lentil soup, and usually I use the recipe I got from my mom years ago. I've tried many different lentil soup recipes over the years, and none of them have been as good as that recipe. But this one just might be better. I think there are two things that make this recipe special - red lentils and homemade curry powder. Red lentils seem to cook down more and make a nice creamy soup. And somehow they taste less hearty than the regular green-brown kind - Jim commented that he could eat more of this soup at a time than my regular recipe, and really the only substantive difference in the two is the type of lentil.
And then I used my homemade curry powder and I think it lends a depth of taste and slight sweetness to the soup that a commercial curry blend might not (unless you've got a real good one).
I found my red lentils at a Mediterranean deli/grocery, but I think you can also often find them at grocery or healthfood stores that have bulk bins.
Oh, and I don't have any asafetida so I left it out. If you do find some you'll want to store it in a spice bottle quarantined within another glass bottle. It's some stinky stuff. But it has a unique tart, pungent taste for which there really is no substitute.
Roasted Red Lentil Soup1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp asafetida
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp black or brown mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 cup white sesame seeds
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
2 cups raw red lentils
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 cups finely chopped celery
2 cups finely chopped carrots
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 cups water
1 cup canned diced tomatoes with juice
1 tsp salt
Combine the curry powder, cumin, asafetida, ginger, and pepper in a small bowl, stir to mix well and set aside.
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and stir almost constantly until the seeds pop, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the sesame seeds. Cook, stirring, until the sesame seeds are golden brown,
1 to 2 minutes.
Add the garlic and the small bowl of spices and stir well for about 30 seconds to toast the spices. Add the lentils and cook 5 minutes, still over medium heat, stirring often. Add the onion, celery and carrots and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the broth and water, bring to a rolling boil and reduce the heat to maintain an active simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are soft and easily mashed.
Add the tomatoes and continue cooking 25 minutes to mingle the flavors, stirring occasionally. Stir in the salt and taste, adding a little more salt, if needed. Serve hot or warm.
[I added a splash of balsamic vinegar about 5 minutes before the end of cooking time. A little bit of acid at the end seems to perk up a lentil soup. But you don't want
to add it earlier in the cooking process or it will make the lentils tough. Also if you don't have asafetida just skip it.]
-Nancie McDermott, The Curry Book