10 November 2011

Quick Red Lentil Soup

When I'm at my friend Nick's house, I can generally count on certain spices being in stock at all times: dried parsley, curry powder, celery seed, and he's generally happy to snag some onion, garlic, and red lentils when I come over for our weekly hanging outs on Wednesdays (formerly Thursdays, but there you go). We found the red lentils at his local grocery store, and picked up a pound, so that I could make a soup. I made about a gallon or so of soup, and the four of us demolished it. Last night, I made another batch of it, and it turned out rather well.

1 tsp olive or canola oil
2 medium onions, chopped small
1 head of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
Pinch of celery seed
3 tsp curry powder
1 bunch of fresh parsley, or a couple of tablespoons of dried
Salt and black pepper, to taste (you can use cayenne pepper, red chile flakes, or any others you like)
1 lb red lentils (these cook up in 20 minutes, no soaking needed)
About 5 litres of water (some will evaporate)

Add onions, garlic, and olive oil to the pot, over medium high heat, and cover the lid after stirring well. Let them cook until completely softened. This took us about 25 minutes last night, on the stove that hates to be controlled. I would try to set it on low, and it would turn off. I settled on medium to let it cook for a longer time without browning. When you have such a small amount of oil, it'll want to make everything get burned rather quickly. The lower heat allows the juices of the onions and garlic to come out slowly, and prevent the burning.

When the onions and garlic are soft, throw in the celery seed, curry powder, and dried parsley. If you're using fresh, just add it at the last 5 minutes of cooking, and not at this point. Stir the spices with the onions and garlic, and continue to cook over medium heat (uncovered) for about two or three minutes. You want the raw taste of the spices to cook out.

Add the pound of red lentils, and stir thoroughly with the spices and aromatics. Add the water, and let it come to the boil (covered) on high heat. Let it continue to boil over high heat for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are completely cooked down. Add more water as desired.

We powered through almost the entire pot last night. It was brothy and tasty, and we just kept going back for extra helpings, even though there was plenty of other stuff to eat.