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
- 2-quart sauce pan with lid
- 6-quart stock pot with lid
- immersion (stick) blender or regular blender
- 2 cups red lentils (picked through to remove any stones)
- 6 cups water
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion (diced)
- 1 stalk celery (diced)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 14.5 ounces canned diced tomatoes
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce (or more to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ¾ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- chopped cilantro
- plain yogurt (or vegan substitute)
- salt (to taste)
- hot sauce
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the celery and garlic and cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- To serve, ladle into bowls and add garnishes.