Saturday, July 9, 2011

Crushed Lentil Soup

Developed from a recipe published January, 2008 in Raleigh, NC News & Observer. Often served in Middle Eastern homes as a first meal when breaking the fast of Ramadan, it can be quickly prepared and carries light but substantial nourishment, flavor, and aroma. Do not substitute other lentils for red lentils because red lentils 'crush' easily when cooked.
3 T olive oil, + some for drizzling
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 T tomato paste
1 t ground cumin
pinch cayenne or 1 t chile powder
1 t salt
1/2 t freshly-ground black pepper
1 cup red lentils
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 quart chicken (or vegetable) broth + 2 cups water
juice and zest of half a lemon

3 T chopped cilantro
In a three-quart pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high until it shimmers. Add onion and garlic, and saute until golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chili powder or cayenne, and saute for 2 minutes longer. Add broth, water, lentils and carrots. Bring to a fast simmer, then partially cover pot and adjust heat. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary. Using an immersion blender, regular blender, or a food processor, puree half the soup and return it to the pot. The texture should be somewhat chunky. Stir in lemon and cilantro and serve. Garnish each serving with a drizzle of olive oil and a light dusting of cumin. Serves four, with warm loaves of pita bread on the side.

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