With the turn of the seasons, from Winter to Spring, comes yearning for taste of lighter things! From stews, grains, hearty soups, and breads…. I’m hoping for something lighter! brothier! and veggie-ful instead! If you too welcome warm weather’s harbinger…. try out this lovely, brothy, red lentil soup with ginger! And if this rhyme is just a little more than you expected, don’t worry another minute, it’s officially ended!
But, seriously, this lovely soup is seriously simple, simply drunk with flavor, with a luscious yet light red-lentil based broth that is deliciously seasoned with ginger, cumin, coriander and cilantro. Divine!
With a little bit of time and space management, you can have this soup ready to go in just about an hour’s time. It’s a one-pot deal so, first off, get your water in the kettle and set it to boil on the stove. While it’s heating up, rinse off your red lentils and add them to the pot; then add your spices… for the longer they cook and meld with everything, the better. Then set to prepping your other ingredients, adding them to the pot as you go along. Start with those that may take longer to cook (potatoes, celery, onions, ginger, carrots…) and work toward the fastest cooking (greens, thinly sliced veggies). I spied a ripe tomato perched on the counter and added it to the brew for a half minute. The skins came off in a jiff and after a few quick chops the tomato met its destiny back in the pot. When the lentils are thoroughly soft and dissolving, to the point you can barely distinguish one from the other, it should be done. All it needs is a final adjustment with salt/seasoning and a generous handful of finely chopped cilantro.
Red lentils (also called masoor dal, or orange lentils) look just like regular brown or green lentils, except they are about half the size and a bright salmon orange. They are quick cooking and easy to digest. Do be sure, however, they are truly fully cooked.
This recipe yielded about 5 quarts, easily enough for 8-10 servings. Add the cilantro to the pot shortly before meal time, or use as a garnish on each serving. The flavor of cilantro rapidly diminishes when cooked. Enjoy alone as a light supper, or hearty it up with some baked marinated tofu and salad. Whatever your choosing, I am certain you will quite enjoy every bite!
Red Lentil & Vegetable Soup with Ginger
Yield: 10 generous servings
If you prefer a heartier soup, more akin to split pea or regular lentil soup, use 2 cups (about 16 ounces) of red lentils instead of 1-1/2 c ups.
4 quarts water
1-1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed clean
1 rounded teaspoon turmeric
1 scant teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/8 tsp (dash or two) of freshly ground pepper
3-4 bay leaves
2 black cardamom pods* (kali elaichi)
1 onion, chopped in small dice
3/4 lb. potatoes, scrubbed and chopped in bite size pieces
1/2 14-ounce can chopped/diced tomatoes (salt-free) or 1 tomato blanched, peeled and chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped, peeled ginger
3-4 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
1 carrot, scrubbed and sliced in rounds
1/2 cauliflower, chopped in bite size pices (also use greens)
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 bunch favorite greens (spinach, chard, kale, collards, etc), chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
1 tablespoon salt, plus Braggs to taste
Bring water to boil over high flame. Add red lentils. Add spices. Chop vegetables in the order listed (except cilantro) and as chopped add to the pot. Turn heat down to medium and let continue to cook at low boil/simmer until the lentils are dissolved and all ingredients are soft. Add cilantro and serve (or use cilantro as garnish for each bowl).
*Black cardamom pods are available at Indian groceries/markets. These are completely different than green cardamom. The black cardamom flavor is so perfect for this soup! I hope you make an effort to include when you try out the recipe. You can also add black cardamom to rice dishes, chai (boil in water for 15 minutes before you add milk and black tea and return to boil), and dals.