So after making the Soup That Ate North Portland, I was ready for something simple, gentle, quiet, satisfying. This curried red lentil stew-thingy was just the ticket.
Red lentils might be my new favorite ingredient. They were not even on my radar until my friend Gauri mentioned how much she depends on them for cooking (not that I know a whole lot about Indian food, but she is a damn fine cook thereof). I love their vivid hue, their malleable texture, their endearing habit of collapsing completely into a formless puree that makes them prime candidates for soupification.
You could spicy this up a bit with some additional chile paste (or even some chopped fresh chiles tossed in with the garlic and ginger), or keep it kid-friendly and serve it as is. It thickens up considerably if refrigerated overnight, and in this new viscous-er form would probably be lovely over steamed rice.
Curried Red Lentil Soup
Serves six--or four hungry folks
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp curry powder, or your own mix of curry spices--I used a couple teaspoons each of ground cumin and turmeric, plus smaller amounts of mustard seeds, coriander and cayenne
4 cloves garlic, minced
a 2" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1-1/2 cups red lentils (this really won't work with the brown or green sort)
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
2 tsp garlic-chile paste
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh cilantro for serving
Melt butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add curry powder or spices and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant. (If using your own spice mix, cook until the seeds start to pop.) Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, one minute more.
Add lentils, carrots and broth. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer about 40 minutes, until lentils have fallen apart.
Stir in chile paste. Taste and add salt and pepper as you see fit.
Serve with cilantro forming a delicate, if slightly soapy-tasting, garnish for each serving.
Image by Flickr user anitasarkeesian. Used under a Creative Commons license.