It’s raining in Dallas this morning. I just got a brand new Calphalon Soup Pot for the kitchen in my new work studio. As I looked out the window, watching the rain, I couldn’t think of a better way to christen this new soup pot than with my favorite Red Lentil Soup, Vegetarian.
I’ve only made this soup possibly a hundred times, and each time is more mesmerizing and rewarding than the last. There’s something about standing over a soup pot stirring ingredients that allows me to sort through my thoughts. Plus, with this recipe, your kitchen will be filled with the smell of Turkish spices.
The Ingredient List
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped, about 2 cups
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups red lentils (I put these in a mesh strainer basket and rinse well just before adding to the pot. You will see the white starch rinse out. Keep rinsing till the water is almost clear. If you do this too early, the lentils will stick together, becoming a solid red lentil rock. So, do this then immediately, then toss into the soup pot).
2 heaping tablespoons ground cumin (If you like spice, and I do, most of the time I use three tablespoons)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional) (Use the turmeric only if you are accustom to it. I take turmeric daily to benefit my knees, so I put it in almost all soups)
1 28-ounce can tomatoes with liquid
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups vegetable broth (1 32oz carton)
3 cups water
1 tablespoon honey
3 bay leaves
Add sea salt to taste at the end of cooking
* This is a recipe you can play with. If you like less tomato and more broth, switch the amounts: 1 15-ounce can of tomatoes with liquid and 1 48-ounce carton of vegetable broth. Add in another 1 cup of water. I make it both ways depending on what’s in the pantry.
* For added flavor, dice one carrot and one celery stalk. Add to onions after about ten minutes from beginning of onion sauté.
NOTE: Have a fresh pepper grinder at the ready!
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (optional, but not necessary as a finish for this soup)
1/2 cup plain yogurt (optional, but not necessary as a finish for this soup)
The Preparation Method
- Heat oil in soup pot over medium heat. Add onion. I like to sauté onions till they caramelize (about twenty minutes). I also like to see brown bits of the onion in the bottom of the pan. You can use a splash of vegetable broth to loosen them.
- Add garlic about 10 – 15 minutes into sautéing the onion. Sauté together about ten more minutes.
- Stir in cumin and red lentils. Stir together for 1 minute, so oil and cumin coat the lentils.
- Add all liquids: can of tomatoes with juice, vegetable broth and water.
- Add all remaining ingredients except red wine vinegar and yogurt, as these are finishing flavors for the soup. They are optional. Most of the time, I do not top with yogurt.
- Take soup pot up to a high boil for a few minutes (about three).
- Then reduce heat to medium low (what I call a soft rolling simmer).
- Cover with lid and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until lentils are soft and falling apart.
- If you wish to cook longer, go another 15 minutes.
- If soup is too thick, I add boiling water till it is a desired consistency. Boiling this additional water allows the soup to continue cooking at a boiling temperature.
- If soup is too thin, remove the lid and continue cooking till desired thickness.
- When ready, remove bay leaves, stir in optional red vinegar and serve with an optional dollop of yogurt on top.