Red lentil soup is definitely one of my cold weather favorites. I have made all sorts of versions but all have been relatively smooth in texture. This version has spoonfuls with different consistencies from caramelized red onions, chopped rainbow chard, and cilantro. Incredible.
This recipe was adapted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I doubled the recipe below, used ground coriander, and added more fresh lemon juice. The authors declared that the squeeze of fresh lemon juice just prior to eating is essential. We ate it with sourdough baguette slices and a green salad.
Yield: Serves 6
- 2 1/2 cups (500 g) split red lentils
- 2 1/2 quarts (2.5 liters) cold water
- 2 medium red onions
- 2 T olive oil
- 7 oz (200 g) Swiss chard (I used rainbow chard)
- 3 cups (50 g) cilantro leaves
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 T coriander seeds or 1 T ground coriander
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 3 1/2 T (50 g) unsalted butter
- grated zest of 1/2 lemon
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- sourdough bread, for serving
- 4 lemons, cut into wedges, for serving
- coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Rinse the lentils in cold water.
- Place lentils in a saucepan with the water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 35 minutes, until soft. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface during cooking.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove about half the lentils from the cooking liquid and set aside in a bowl.
- Add a generous pinch of salt to the lentils and water int he pan and process with an immersion blender (or in a food processor).
- Return the reserved lentil to the soup.
- Peel the red onions, halve, and thinly slice them.
- Place onions in a frying pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onions soften and become translucent. Season with salt and pepper.
- Remove the large stems from the Swiss chard and reserve for another use. Wash and rinse the leaves, then chop coarsely.
- Remove the large stems from the cilantro and discard. Wash and rinse the leaves, reserve a few leaves for garnish, and coarsely chop the remainder.
- Mix the cooked onions, chard leaves, and chopped cilantro into the lentil soup.
- Season the soup with the cumin, cinnamon, and some salt and pepper to taste. Reheat the soup and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
- With a mortar and pestle, or using the flat blade of a large knife, crush the cilantro seeds and garlic together.
- Melt the butter gently in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the garlic and coriander seeds, and fry for 2 minutes, until the garlic starts to color slightly.
- Stir the butter mixture and the lemon juice into the soup, remove the pot from the stove, and cover with a lid. Leave the soup to infuse for 5 minutes prior to serving.
- Serve garnished with lemon zest and cilantro with lemon wedges and sourdough bread on the side. Make sure everybody squeezes the lemon into their soup.
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