Red Lentil Soup

Red Lentil SoupWha’Soup?

In winter I cook a lot of soup. It’s a great way to mainline vegetables after the butter and fatty meat fest that was the holiday season. Also, soup is warm which, when we get rain like we have been, it’s very satisfying. Lastly, soup freezes well, so you can pull it out anytime you want a tasty lunch or an easy dinner.

I have a number of favorites that I make regularly. Minestrone is usually the first one I go to, followed quickly by my Butternut Squash Soup. Then there’s the bean soups. And what freezer would be complete without some Chicken Soup variant to stave off the winter flu? Matzo, Chicken Noodle, Chicken and Rice…

The easiest soups are the ones that you simmer for a while and blend smooth with a stick blender. Potato Leek is great, or even better, Baked Potato (Yum!). My favorites tend to be anything with some spice to it. If fresh chilies or cayenne pepper have my lips burning (for some reason other than the temperature of the soup) I am happy.

I found this one in the January Issue of Food & Wine a few years ago, and it’s a keeper. I made a few changes to suit my tastes, and encourage you to give it a try this week to help keep warm.

Red Lentil Soup
Adapted from Food & Wine Magazine 

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large celery rib, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 large carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
6 ounces red potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces
1 rounded cup red lentils (8 ounces)
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock (or vegetable if you prefer)
3/4 to 1 teaspoon ground cumin (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (again to taste—depending on strength of cayenne)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderately high heat until fragrant—this should take about 2 minutes. Add the celery and carrot and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Add the potato, lentils and stock.

Bring the soup to a boil, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, for about 40 minutes.

Puree the soup using a stick blender (or in small batches in a conventional blender, then returning it to the saucepan). Add the cumin, cayenne and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Adjust seasoning and spices to taste.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream (if desired).

Note: You can adapt this recipe for the Instantpot by browning the garlic and onion on the sauté setting and cooking for ten minutes on high pressure. Puree with an immersion blender.

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