The Secret Soup Series – Installment 1- Red Lentil Soup

The real secret to making good soup is to have some opposite flavors.   Almost every soup starts with onions, which provide an undertone of sweetness and ends with a bit of tartness, which is provided by either lemon or vinegar.  What goes in between is what makes the soup the kind it will end of being whether it is tomato, chicken noodle or corn chowder.

This Red Lentil soup was inspired by a recipe in the New York Times that my friend Judy gave me, but it needed a little something.  At the time I made it I was on a smoked Paprika kick and when I added to this soup it added a new complexity to it that raised this recipe up to craving status.  You know what craving status is, the kind of food you dream about having again and can almost taste it in you brain when you are making it.

The other great thing about this recipe is red lentils are very quick looking and lighter than other lentils.  I buy mine at the Indian grocery store because they are much cheaper there.

2 big yellow onions chopped

3 cloves of garlic minced


1 T. tomato paste

1 ½ t. Smoked Paprika

1 ½ t. ground cumin

Dash of cayenne pepper

Salt and Pepper

1 1/2 quarts of Chicken Broth (or veggie if you want vegan)

2 carrots chopped

1 ½ cups of dried red lentils

Zest and juice of a lemon

Cilantro leaves – small handful

In a big soup pot spray the Pam and add the onions and garlic and cook over medium high heat for about five minutes until they start to brown.  The browning develops the flavors, so make sure they get some color before moving on.

Add the tomato paste and all the spices and cook another couple of minutes.  You always want to cook tomato paste to take the tinny taste out of it and toasting spices brings out the best in them.

Add the liquid, lentils, and carrot and bring the whole pot to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cover the pot.  After about 20 minutes remove the lid and cook another 10 minutes.  The lentils should be soft by now.

You want to partially puree this soup and the easiest way to do that is with a sick blender you just put in the pot and whirl up for a bit.  If you don’t have a stick blender you can put half the soup in a blender and puree it and add it back to the other half that has more solids.

Add the lemon juice, zest and taste to see if you need more salt or black pepper.

Serve with chopped cilantro added at the last moment.  Don’t put the cilantro in the whole pot because it changes in taste after a while, so if you have leftover it won’t be as good.

Let me know if you dream about this soup.  Invest in smoked paprika you won’t be disappointed.

One Comment on “The Secret Soup Series – Installment 1- Red Lentil Soup”

  1. sybaritica says:

    The smoked paprika does sound nice in that … maybe chipotle too?

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