I absolutely love red lentil soup. I have made several versions and I have always been pleased with the results. It’s easy, healthy, and delicious. This version was incredibly creamy. I loved the pop of color from the flavorful toppings too.
This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen. I modified the proportions. We ate it with a green salad and warm naan- a perfect light dinner. Vegetable stock can be substituted for the chicken stock for a vegetarian version.
Yield: Serves 8 to 10
For the Soup:
4 T unsalted butter
2 large onions, chopped fine (I used a food processor)
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 T tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups chicken stock (I used 4 cups chicken stock & 4 cups homemade turkey stock)
4 cups water
21 ounces (3 cups) red lentils, picked over and rinsed
4 T (1/4 cup, about 1 lemon) freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus extra for seasoning
For the Topping:
4 T unsalted butter
3 tsp dried mint, crumbled (I omitted it)
2 tsp paprika
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
To Make the Soup:
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium heat.
Add onion and 2 teaspoons salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
Add coriander, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in broth, water, and lentils and bring to simmer. Simmer vigorously, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft and about half are broken down, about 15 minutes.
Whisk soup vigorously until it is coarsely pureed, about 30 seconds. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and extra lemon juice to taste. Cover and keep warm. (Soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Thin soup with water, if desired, when reheating.)
To Make the Topping:
Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in small skillet or in the microwave. (I only did 1/2 of the topping because I froze 1/2 of the soup!)
Remove from heat and stir in mint and paprika, as desired.
Ladle soup into individual bowls, drizzle each portion with spiced butter (about 1 teaspoon), sprinkle with cilantro, and serve.
This is a healthy and hearty vegetarian stew. We ate it over brown Basmati rice with steamed spinach on the side. I loved that it was loaded with warm spices.
The recipe was adapted from Brooklyn’s Kos Kaffe via The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used farro instead of barley, used canned beans, and increased the amount of garlic. I also reduced the amount water to achieve a thicker consistency. Nice.
Yield: Serves 8 to 10
For the Baharat Spice Blend:
1 T sweet paprika
1/2 T ground coriander
1/2 T ground cumin
1/2 T ground turmeric
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground allspice
For the Stew:
5 T extra-virgin olive oil, more for serving
2 leeks, white and green parts, diced
1 bunch cilantro, leaves and stems separated
1 cup finely diced fennel, fronds reserved (1 medium or 1/2 large fennel bulb)
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons baharat spice blend
1 small (or 1/2 large) cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup pearled barley or farro (I used Trader Joe’s 10 minute farro)
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
large pinch saffron, crumbled
4 cups cooked beans or chickpeas (I used 2 15-oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash (1/2 large or 1 small squash)
3/4 cup peeled and diced turnip (1 medium)
1/2 cup red lentils
plain yogurt, for serving (I used Greek yogurt)
aleppo pepper or hot paprika, for serving
brown Basmati rice, for serving, optional
Make the baharat spice blend. Set aside.
Cut leeks in half, slice into half moons, and soak in a bowl of water. Drain and finely chop in a food processor.
In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil and cook leeks until they begin to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
While the leeks cook, finely chop the cilantro stems, fennel and garlic in a food processor.
Stir the cilantro stems into the pot, along with diced fennel and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes.
Stir in baharat, cinnamon and tomato paste, and cook until paste begins to caramelize, about 2 minutes.
Stir in broth, 1 cup water (water can be omitted for a thicker consistency), the barley/farro, and the salt. Bring to a gentle boil, stir in saffron, if using, and reduce heat to medium. (The original recipe uses 3 cups of water- increase for a more soup-like consistency, as desired.)
Simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. (I simmered the stew for 20 minutes because I used par-cooked farro.)
Stir in beans, squash, turnip and lentils; cook until barley/farro and vegetables are tender, about another 30 minutes.
Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired. Remove cinnamon stick.
Ladle stew into bowls. (I served it over rice.)
Spoon a dollop of yogurt on top and drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with cilantro leaves, fennel fronds and Aleppo pepper or paprika, as desired.
I have another rotisserie chicken dish to share. Rotisserie chicken meat is used as a shortcut to prepare this delicious Middle Eastern dish. I also used store-bought pita chips in the topping. It was very quick to pull together on a weeknight- fast, crowd-pleasing comfort food. 🙂
The topping was the absolute highlight. Quite often, the bread is layered in the base of this dish. This adaptation reverses the sequence in which the finished dish is plated so that the bread and nuts provide a crispy contrast to the brothy base. Great.
The recipe was adapted from everylittlecrumb.com. I used fresh herbs and pita chips in the topping. I also modified the method and proportions and made the lemon-garlic-yogurt sauce ahead of time to heighten the flavors.
Chickpeas and/or roasted eggplant cubes can be substituted for the shredded chicken to make a vegetarian version.
Yield: Serves 6
For the Chicken & Rice:
1rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed, meat shredded
2cupsyogurt (I used a combination of whole milk yogurt and fat-free Greek yogurt)
2 largegarlic cloves, crushed with a garlic press
3/4tsp coarse salt
freshly squeezedlemon juice from 1/2 lemon, or more, to taste
1/4cuppine nuts or almond slivers, toasted
3 to 4 T chopped parsley and/or mint
olive oil, for drizzling, optional
Prepare the chicken by shredding the rotisserie chicken meat.
In a sauté pan, warm the shredded chicken meat in 2 cups of the chicken stock; keep on low heat until serving so the chicken warms through.
Cook the rice in the remaining 2 cups of chicken stock.
To Make the Pita Chips: Toast the pita bread in the oven by placing in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet, and drizzling well with olive oil and tossing to combine. Bake at 350 F for 8-10 minutes or until crispy and golden brown, and set aside. (I substituted store-bought pita chips, broken into cubes.)
Mix together the yogurt with the crushed garlic, salt, and lemon juice. Stir well to combine. (I made this in advance and kept it in the refrigerator.) Adjust the seasoning and amount of lemon juice, to taste, before serving.
Assemble by placing the rice in the base of a deep serving dish. Pour some- or all of- the chicken stock over the top, and scatter the shredded chicken evenly.
Dollop the garlic yogurt on top and smooth out, then top with the crispy pita chips.
Garnish with paprika, chopped parsley and mint, and toasted nuts. Drizzle with olive oil, if desired.
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. We ate it for dinner with a crusty sourdough baguette and a giant green salad. This quick and tasty dish can be served any meal of the day.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
3tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
1large red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
6garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp sweet paprika
1/8tsp ground cayenne, or to taste
1(28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes with their juices, coarsely chopped (I used San Marzano)
3/4 tsp kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/4 tsp black pepper, plus more as needed
5ounces feta, crumbled (about 1 1/4 cups)
6 to 8large eggs (I used 7)
chopped cilantro, for serving
hot sauce, for serving
warm pita or crusty bread, for serving
Heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low. (I used a large enameled cast iron pot.)
Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook gently until very soft, about 20 minutes.
Add garlic and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes; stir in cumin, paprika and cayenne, and cook 1 minute.
Pour in tomatoes and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; simmer until tomatoes have thickened, about 10 minutes.
Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Stir in crumbled feta.
Gently crack eggs into skillet over tomatoes. Season eggs with salt and pepper.
Transfer skillet to oven and bake until eggs are just set, 7 to 10 minutes.
Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with hot sauce and warm bread.
I have two hearty soups to share. Perfect to serve for dinner on a chilly night. This red lentil soup is healthy, delicious, and quick to prepare.
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I doubled the recipe, modified the proportions, and puréed the finished soup to create a uniform texture. I served it with warm naan and green salad.
Yield: 8 servings
6tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling
2large yellow onions, chopped
8garlic cloves, minced
2T tomato paste
2tsp ground cumin
1/2tsp kosher salt, more to taste
1/2tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground Chile powder, more to taste
1/4 tsp cayenne, more to taste
2quarts chicken or vegetable stock (I used 1 quart of homemade turkey stock & 1 quart of chicken stock)
2cups red lentils
3large carrots, peeled and diced
juice and zest of 1 lemon, more to taste
6 T chopped fresh cilantro, more for garnish
In a large pot, heat oil over high heat until hot and shimmering.
Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.
Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper, chili powder, and cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.
Add stock, water, lentils and carrots. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes.
Taste and add salt if necessary.
Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée the soup then add it back to pot.
Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro.
Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder, if desired. Garnish with additional minced cilantro as well, if desired.
These sandwiches are a great weeknight dinner. Using ground turkey or chicken instead of beef, lamb or pork makes them a little bit lighter as well.
After seeing sandwiches served in taco racks at NYC’s Chelsea Market, I used taco racks to assemble these messy sandwiches. Genius! 😉
This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. I used ground turkey instead of ground chicken and added lemon juice, garlic, and herbs to the sauce.
Yield: Serves 4
1.25 pounds ground turkey or chicken
1/2 white onion, diced small
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley and cilantro
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cucumber, diced large (about 1 1/3 cups)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 1/2 a lemon, more to taste
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 to 4 T minced fresh dill
2 T vegetable oil
2 handfuls of grape tomatoes, sliced lengthwise or 2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
4 small naan or pitas, warmed
1/2 cup fresh mint or cilantro, for serving
sliced or chopped red onion, for serving, optional
In a large bowl, combine ground meat, diced onion, chopped parsley/cilantro, cumin and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Mix until well combined.
Using your hands, form mixture into 8 oval patties.
In a medium bowl, toss together cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and dill; season with salt and pepper. Add additional lemon juice, if desired.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium to medium-high. Cook patties until browned on all sides and cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes. (I cooked the meatballs until the internal temperature reached 165 degrees.)
Divide patties and tomatoes among warm naan or pitas. (I assembled the sandwiches in taco racks.)
Top with cucumber-yogurt sauce and mint or cilantro. Top with red onion, if desired.
Fold to enclose (if not using taco racks) and serve.
Yes! I have many more weeknight chicken dishes to share. This one uses the genius technique of incorporating pan juices to create an incredible sauce with za’atar, coriander, and citrus.
This wonderful dish was reminiscent of a deconstructed gyro. It would also be incredible served with tomatoes, cucumbers and naan or pita. I served it with green salad, roasted potatoes, and asparagus.
The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Aaron Crowder, Katie Jackson, and Nick Perkins. I used a sheet pan, substituted boneless, skinless chicken thighs for bone-in, and modified the proportions in the sauce. Fabulous!
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 4 chicken legs (thigh and drumstick; about 2½ lbs total)
1 or2 medium red onions, cut into 1″-thick wedges
2 heads of garlic, halved crosswise, plus 2 cloves
1 to 1 1/2 lemons, quartered, seeds removed
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1½ cups plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
1 1/2 T za’atar
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest or 1/2 T lemon juice
1/2 tsp finely grated lime zest or 1/2 T lime juice
Preheat oven to 325°, preferably on convection.
Pat chicken meat dry with paper towels. Arrange chicken, onions, halved garlic heads, and lemon on a rimmed sheet pan or in a 13×9″ baking dish; season liberally with salt and pepper (remember to season both sides of chicken).
Pour in oil and toss everything to coat.
Turn garlic cut side down and nestle it in so it is in contact with the baking dish.
Roast, “skin side down,” rotating pan halfway through, for 20 minutes if using boneless meat. Roast until meat is almost falling off the bone (if using bone-in meat), 50–60 minutes.
Meanwhile, finely grate 1 garlic clove into a small bowl. Add yogurt, a big pinch of salt, and 1 Tbsp. water and mix well. Set aside yogurt sauce.
Remove baking dish from oven and transfer onions, garlic, and lemon to a plate. If using boneless, skinless meat, flip the chicken meat to roast on the opposite side.
Increase oven temperature to 425° and continue to roast chicken until skin is golden brown, 10–15 minutes more.
Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes. Set aside pan with juices.
Finely grate remaining garlic clove into another small bowl. Add za’atar, coriander, lemon zest juice, and lime zest juice.
Pour reserved juices in pan into za’atar mixture until you’ve reached an oily consistency (about 3T). Mix in a pinch of salt.
Spread reserved yogurt sauce over a platter and arrange chicken on top.
Scatter onions, garlic, and lemon around the chicken; drizzle with za’atar oil.