For starters, this is not my recipe. Thanks to Melissa Clark from the New York Times who originally described this soup in 2008, this recipe has been floating around Facebook in a more recent post on my feed. Multiple people have shared it and one of our team members who is currently trying a vegan lifestyle made it and told me I should give it a go.
Since I fell in love with Ethiopian yemisir wat a few years ago, I tend to associate red lentils more with berbere-like spices. I wouldn’t have thought to use tomato paste, cumin, lemon, and cilantro if it wasn’t for this recipe.
As luck would have it, I had all the ingredients on hand this weekend. I personally wouldn’t use the words “divine” or “mind blowing” for it, but rather: comforting, soothing, light, homey, tasteful.
Lemony Red Lentil Soup
By Melissa Clark, adapted for oil-free cooking. Serves 4-6 people.
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon salt OR mushroom seasoning, more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, more to taste
- Pinch of cayenne, more to taste
- 1 quart (or 4 cups) vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- Juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Using a large nonstick pot, saute the onions first then add the garlic during the last minute. For oil-free cooking, add small amounts of water as needed to keep the vegetables from sticking. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne and allow to saute for an additional 2 minutes.
Add the broth, water, lentils, and carrot. After bringing to a boil, drop the heat down to a simmer and partially cover. Cook for an additional 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft and broken down. Taste and add more salt (or mushroom seasoning) as needed.
Using an immersion blender or a food processor, blend half the soup and return it back to the pot. You want the soup to still have some texture – don’t blend it to a puree. Stir in lemon juice and cilantro. If wanted, top with extra chopped cilantro before serving.
- On the recipe’s comments, someone said something about grating the carrot. I thought about doing that but changed my mind at the last minute. I imagine it would work lovely, too.
- This is a simple soup that would serve fine as a backdrop for multiple variations: add diced potatoes, mushrooms, canned chopped tomatoes, barley, bulgur wheat (as the Melissa’s original post describes), spinach, etc. Of course, it’s always nice to make the original recipe before you change it too much and then say you don’t like how it turned out!