Over the years I’ve developed a terrible habit of constantly sampling the thing I’m working on in my kitchen. Cooking dinner is alike one long buffet for me. Although I only snack on the vegetables I’m cooking (because I LOVE raw veggies), my stomach is usually full by the time dinner rolls around. If I was single, without kids, this wouldn’t be a problem – I could just save the food for later. But because eating dinner is important in my house, I need to sit down with my husband and my daughter to eat. This leaves me with two option. I can either sit down and not eat anything, giving my daughter the warped impression that mom cooks dinner but never eats it. Or I can eat with my family and end up being overly full.
That’s where this red lentil soup comes in. Red lentils cook so incredibly fast that this soup takes only a few minutes to make. What does that mean for me? Less time for snacking before dinner!
Tips for Making Red Lentil Soup
One of the things I love about this soup is that it bursts with flavor. It has a hint of sweetness from the carrots and an earthy depth from the red lentils and tomato paste. The cumin gives it a touch of heat that’s not too spicy nor too mild – making it a warm, soothing soup. A squeeze of lemon and a bit of minced parsley added right before serving is what makes this soup shine. If you want an extra kick of heat, add more cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. Red lentils can take on pretty much any flavor so let your imagination go wild.
The beauty of this soup is that it’s a pantry soup (I always keep all the ingredients on hand). It’s one of those dishes I make when I’m pressed for time or have some last minute company coming over. I always start by sauteing the aromatics – onions and garlic – and then adding the spices. One trick I’ve learned from Geoffrey Zakarian, chef in New York City, is to let the tomato paste “brown” in the pan together with the spices and other aromatics as well. This can boost the soup flavor in a big way. Letting the tomato paste heat through and then deglazing the pan caramelizes the sugars, making the soup smoother and sweetening the flavor.
Next come the red lentils, which are such a great legume. They cook in a very short time and don’t require any pre-soaking, like other pulses do. Since red lentils fall apart while cooking, they are the perfect addition to this soup. They act as a thickener and provide a velvet-like texture. If the soup is not creamy enough for you, you can always puree half of the soup in a blender.
I should also mention that the flavor of this red lentil soup only improves with an overnight stint in the fridge. Go ahead and make a batch to eat throughout the week. If your weather is still snowy and dreary like it is here in Canada, you’ll enjoy eating this comforting soup for sure. It’s pairs perfectly with my this nut and seed bread.
Tools You’ll Need
1. Blender (Vitamix Pro 750) | 2. Cookware Set (Calphalon, Stainless Steel) | 3. Knife Set (6 Pieces, Utopia, Stainless Steel) | 4. Cutting Board (12″x 9″, Midori Way, Bamboo) | 5. Measuring Cup (1 Cup, Pyrex, Glass) | 6. Measuring Spoons (Set of 6, 1Easylife, Stainless Steel) | 7. Can Opener (Zyliss, Stainless Steel)
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