Monday, March 10, 2008

Something Spicy: Red Lentil Soup

This is my entry to the latest round of Waiter, there is something in my ... , this time hosted by lovely Jeanne of Cook Sister!, who has chosen pulses as the theme.

Although I've got plenty of Estonian recipes (as well as beetroot recipes:) in store for you, I decided to post something altogether spicier today - a red lentil soup. It's based on a recipe for Spicy Egyptian Lentil Soup in lovely Claudia Roden's "Tamarind and Saffron", but I tinkered with the recipe and the serving suggestions a bit, and really loved the result. It was on our table last Saturday, when couple of friends came over for a Scrabble night, and all four of us went for second helpings.

Spicy, exotic (well, for us:), heart-warming, delicious, comforting.

Spicy Red Lentil Soup
(Vürtsikas läätsesupp)
Serves 4-6

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds, slightly crushed
1.5-2 tsp coriander seeds, slighly crushed
1 tsp red chilli flakes
400 g chopped tomatoes or passata
400 g red lentils, rinsed
2 medium carrots, coarsely grated
2 litres chicken stock
freshly ground black pepper
juice of half a lemon

To serve:
fresh coriander/cilantro leaves, finely chopped
plain yogurt/sour cream

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add onion and fry gently for 7-8 minutes, until onion softens.
Add the garlic, crushed cumin and coriander seeds (I use my pestle & mortar), chilli flakes. Give it a stir and fry for another minute.
Add the tomatoes, red lentils, grated carrot and hot chicken stock. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, half-covered, for 30-45 minutes, until lentils begin to break up.
Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Dilute with hot water, if necessary.

Serve with a dollop of coriander cream (mix coriander and cream/yogurt).*

* Claudia Roden suggested serving her soup with fried crispy shallots. But I had a lovely Egyptial lentil soup with coriander cream in a new deli-café near university here, so I 'stole' that serving idea instead.


Gretchen Noelle said...

I wish I could find red lentils here so that I could try this! Yum!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

I love lentils in all shapes and colors. This sounds just the thing to sooth my sore throat - yes AGAIN!

Gretchen, have you tried your local Mid. East shop?

lobstersquad said...

It´s a bore to fry things for garnish. Although those crispy onions you can buy in Ikea are pretty good for that. But the yogurt looks much prettier, so that´s that.

Wendy said...

Gorgeous colour. :)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I've had some red lentils languishing in a jar in my pantry for months. Time to put them to good use -- and this soup looks so very good!

Kalyn Denny said...

Oh yes, I can tell this would taste fabulous.

Lisa said...

I love red lentils. This soup sounds scrumptious! (And looks scrumptious, too.)

Jeanne said...

I have been meaning to make this for the longest time - I have a packet of red lentils in my cupboard and all the spices I need, plus quite a few recipes to mix 'n match. But for some reason Nick has developed a dislike for red lentils and every time I suggest this he pulls a face. Men!!!

Puhvis Kukk said...

How bizarre - I just made this yesterday. Well, something awfully similar. At the end I added balsamic vinegar and honey adn topped it with shallots and some feta cheese before serving.

Annemarie said...

Sounds just lovely - lentils are very comforting. Look forward to the beetroot recipes - have come left from our weekly veg box and not sure what to do with them!

Anonymous said...

Love lentils and all things spicy! MMM...I have to replenish my stash :) Your soup looks delicious Pille...and great color too!

Anonymous said...

I had an idea of using the soup as a sauce between lasagne noodles. I was trying to think of something for dinner tonight.

Mike of Mike's Table said...

This sounds like a fantastic soup! I'm not a big soup person, but I could definitely see finishing every last drop of this

Pille said...

Gretchen Noelle – have you tried health food stores? These usually stock lentils in all shades and sizes.

Meeta – I’ve got a packet of black beluga lentils that I’m going to try next.

Lobstersquad – I’ve got a jar of toasted onion flakes, might use these next time.

Wendy – it’s vibrant, isn’t it?

Jeanne – just ignore him. And serve it on a candlelight dinner :)

H – great minds think alike, you know :) Feta cheese would have been excellent here!

Annemarie – I’m sure there’s plenty of beetroot ideas on my blog!

Joey – well, if you like spicy things and lentils, then you’d love this soup.

Pene – I saw a lentil ‘lasagne’ recipe in an Austrian vegetarian food magazine recently, which looked surprisingly nice.

Mike – sometimes we surprise ourselves. And considering this is a pretty substantial soup, you might classify it as a thin stew :)

Kalyn, Lydia, Lisa – it was good indeed :)

Anonymous said...

wow... i'm bookmarking this for next winter! soup season is over for me for now, but this will be a part of a winter '08-'09 winter.

Dazy said...

Can I seriously come over for dinner soon? ...... your recipe sounds so yummy.....

Karima said...

try next moroccoan harira soup
its so good soup with lentils too

Pille said...

We Are Never Full - winter is here now again, so hopefully you'll try it!

Dazy - why not :)

Karimakene - thanks for the suggestion! I've always wanted to make harira myself, so will put it to my try-next list of recipes!

Karima said...

good its realy good we eat this alot in ramadhan

claire gallam said...

I'm featuring this on my blog, it looks DELICIOUS!! Thank you!!

Tatiana said...

I love lentils, and I love spicy soup, so choosing this recipe for Spicy Red Lentil Soup from nami-nami was a no-brainer for me. I’d never worked with red lentils before, but got them at the Bulk Barn (yay for BB!) and was really excited to make this soup.

My thoughts:
- This soup reminded me of a watery chili. And if I want chili, I’ll make chili. I like my lentil soups & stews more rustic and earthy flavoured, so while I might use this combination of ingredients to make a soup in the future, I’d probably play with the spices some more.
- Speaking of watery, I was surprised to see that the recipe says you might need to dilute it with hot water. I must have done something wrong since, as you can see in my picture, my soup is not creamy and thick. It was the next day, but that happens with most soup/stews.
- I used sour cream and lemon to garnish and did not bother mixing coriander with the cream.
- Freshly made with sour cream and lemon on it, this was NOT a spicy soup. The next day, after sitting in the fridge overnight, without sour cream because I’d used it all, it was.
- The lemon is an awesome touch. Don’t miss it. Use a nice squeeze from a fresh lemon wedge.
- Grating carrots is awesome. It’s now how I feed raw carrots to our daughter, since I worry about them as a choking hazard otherwise while raw.

Overall, this was a tasty soup and I’m sure I’ll make iterations on it in the future if I’m stuck on ideas for dinner, or want to make a vegan meal (substituting vegetable broth for the chicken) for some reason.