Soup For C.

I'm not sure there is anything more satisfying to me than when my 10-year old daughter's friends enjoy my cooking. I love that they are adventurous enough to eat the food that I make, and I love that my daughter is so proud when they praise it. One of P's friends in particular, C., is a favored guest, both because of her enthusiasm and because she actually makes requests. I have been sending C. jars and jars of dill pickles this fall, having made way more than I could ever dream of eating, and I owe her some pickled beets -- she was the only person who ate the ones I made last fall (everyone else found them too tart) and has now requested more.

Her mom told me that she was looking for a lentil soup recipe, and I've finally gotten around to making it. I'd been procrastinating because my own kiddo is not terribly fond of the genre. I made the one I've been dreaming up for the past few weeks; I'm not sure if it was the lingering cold P. has or a change of tastebuds, but she loved it. I loved it, too. Totally comforting, hearty, nutritious, and zingy. It uses red lentils instead of the more familiar brown or green ones; I find red lentils have a lighter taste and a texture that is more vegetal than starchy or gummy, which I prefer. I used a great quality chili powder (as in chili con carne -- not red chile) that I keep around from Penzey's Spices, but you could use individual spices as indicated below.

Red Lentil Soup
Serves 4

2 TB olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced small
1 bell pepper (green, red, yellow, orange -- the choice is yours), diced small
2 plump cloves of garlic, minced
2 celery stalks, along with leaves, diced small
1.5 c canned or fresh diced tomato
2 bay leaves
2 tsp dried thyme
2 TB medium-hot chili powder, OR: 1 tsp red chile powder (chipotle would be good here), 1 TB paprika, 2 tsp ground cumin, and 1 tsp crushed dried oregano
1 c red lentils, picked over
1.5 c chicken broth (or substitute water)
1.5 quarts (6 cups) water
sea salt and freshly-ground pepper
chopped cilantro and lime wedges to serve (optional)

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, peppers, garlic, and celery along with a healthy pinch of salt and sauté until softened and onions are translucent. Add bay leaves, thyme, and chili powder (or spice mix) and stir a few seconds to release the flavor. Add tomatoes, lentils, chicken broth, water, and 1-1/2 tsp salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn down the stove to a lively simmer. Allow to simmer for around 45 minutes until the lentils are tender. Keep an eye on the soup; add water if it gets thicker than you'd like it. Adjust the salt and serve -- garnish with cilantro and squeeze a bit of lime juice over, if you wish.


This looks terrific! One thing--I loathe, loathe, loathe celery. Can't stand the stuff. Think it ruins everything it touches. Would you just drop it? Or do something different?
Fie with your celery hatred! ;-)

You could leave it out, or add other mirepoix-ish things (leeks, maybe, or carrots). Soup's always flexible.
Claire said…
Great soup - I think it just cured my lurgy! For the record I used black lentils and leeks (not celery) because that's what I had. Yum!