Monday, November 28, 2011
Post-Holiday Red Lentil Soup
I’m having a slow start to this week. We’ve just returned home from Washington, DC where my brother, Tim, and sister-in-law, Kristen, hosted an incredible Thanksgiving dinner for us, my parents and my brother, Mike. We all enjoyed a long holiday weekend together with sightseeing, walks in the sunshine, football and good food. Watching my sons with their sweet younger cousins warmed my heart and I’m feeling particularly thankful to have had this time with my family since next summer Tim, Kristen and their children are moving to Hanoi (Tim is in the Foreign Service). Sigh. A bit more difficult to spend time together but we look forward to Thanksgiving in Vietnam sometime.
For now, though, it’s time to transition back to life here. So far today this means pulling sleepy boys out of bed for school, throwing a load of laundry in, picking up our dogs and running to the grocery store. Time to ponder what to make for dinner...
A simple soup is a welcome meal after a holiday weekend of indulgent eating. This red lentil one is quick and easy to pull together with pantry staples (and no pureeing involved). A bowl of warm nourishment. I love opening my tin of Indian spices to inhale the scent of cumin seed, ground coriander and turmeric - all of which flavor this soup. The tomato base creates a fresh, hearty taste, crushed red chile peppers give a spicy kick and a splash of lemon juice pulls it all together (you can also add a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt if you prefer some creaminess).
Stirring a pot of soup is a time for reflection and evokes warm feelings of the past few days for me. I am grateful for time spent with people I love and that we could gather around the table to celebrate a holiday together. I hope your Thanksgiving weekend was enjoyable and shared with loved ones, too.
Red Lentil Soup
Adapted from Pasta & Company in Seattle, WA
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 medium onions, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon crushed red chile peppers (or more to taste)
8 cups water
2 cups red lentils, rinsed and picked over
28 ounces canned (or homemade) tomato puree
6 ounces tomato paste
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
Sour cream or Greek yogurt to dollop (optional)
In a large soup pot, warm the oil over low heat and add the cumin seeds, coriander and turmeric. Stir for a few minutes until fragrant and the seeds darken. Add the onions, garlic and red chile peppers. Increase the heat and sauté until the onions are soft.
Add the water, lentils, tomato puree and paste, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, stir again and simmer uncovered for about 25 minutes. The lentils should be very soft and the soup thickened. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning. If the soup is very thick you can add a little more water or lemon juice. Serve warm with sour cream or yogurt.
(This soup can be made a few days ahead and it freezes well.)