Lentils are one of my favorite comfort foods, and when I need a little warmth and comfort I’m very likely to walk into the kitchen and make a pot of mujaddarah, my favorite lentils and rice. Lentils are a powerhouse of nutrients, including protein, iron, fiber, folate, and thiamine, plus they are inexpensive, making them a great pantry staple. I keep bags of dried brown and red lentils on hand to take care of my cravings and I’m always on the lookout for another delicious way to enjoy them.
I spotted the original recipe for this soup (they call it chili) in Wegman’s Menu Magazine, a seasonal publication by my favorite grocery store, and I made a large batch of the soup on a cold, wintry day with a few changes to suit our palates. We used olive oil instead of butter, skipped the cornstarch, and came up with our own list of garnishes we like on top. I enjoyed the aromas and snuck a nibble here and there while cooking, then I knew we had a winner when Michael said I could make this any time. We even got a thumbs up and request for a second helping from our six-year-old son.
SPICY RED LENTIL AND TOMATO SOUP
Adapted from Wegman’s Menu Magazine.
Makes about 12 cups.
2 quart sauce pan with lid
6 quart stock pot with lid
immersion (stick) blender or regular blender
2 cups (340 g) red lentils, picked through to remove any stones
6 cups (1.44 liters) water, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 ounce/411 g) can diced tomatoes
4 cups (960 ml) vegetable stock
1 tablespoon hot sauce (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
plain yogurt (or vegan substitute)
salt to taste
1. In the 2 quart pot, add the lentils and 4 cups of the water. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Allow the lentils to sit covered for about 20 minutes to absorb water.
2. While the lentils rest, heat the olive oil in the 6 quart pot. Add the onions, and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, until they are soft and glisten, but not brown.
3. Add the celery and garlic and cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.
4. Add the vegetable stock, 2 cups of the water hot sauce, turmeric, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, and chili powder. Cover and bring to a simmer.
5. Add half the lentils and liquid to the pot. With the immersion (stick) blender or regular blender, puree the remaining lentils and liquid, then pour into the pot. Cook at a simmer for another 15 minutes.
6. To serve, ladle into bowls and add garnishes.