Blissful Eats With Laurie Jesch-Kulseth: Red Lentil Soup With Lemon

Wow! Take a look at this place.  It’s beautiful!  What a lovely new home for Bliss, Mrs. French!  

I hope all of you are having a great week.  We’re still trying to dig out here in St. Paul, MN as another record snowstorm blew through on Monday.  Most of the locals are anxious for Spring to arrive.  Truth be told, I’m comfortable with the idea of winter hanging on just a bit.  I love nuzzling into my nice warm house without the pressure to ‘get outside’ and ‘do something.’  It’s not that I don’t enjoy the outdoors, I’m just not quite ready yet to say goodbye to my favorite Winter fare.   Which segues nicely into today’s post.  The fresh foot-and-a-half of snow blanketing my yard call out for warm comfort food.  

This is an incredible soup from Melissa Clark’s “In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite“.  My in-laws gave me this fantastic new cookbook by the prolific (29 cookbooks!), highly-talented New York Times culinary columnist.  It not only has great recipes, but is a pleasure to read for the author’s personal anecdotes.

Full disclosure– I usually don’t follow soup recipes.  I like to mentally combine flavors, running through various ingredients in my head. Soup is the perfect food in which to dabble.  To be honest, I’m not sure what made me decide to follow this one for lentil soup.  On my first read through the new cookbook, several other recipes jumped out at me– but for some reason, I made this soup.   Wow! The small, slightly firm lentils provide nice texture.  The hint of chili powder and cumin really meld together into a subtly complex combination– savory/smokey, I guess.  And then there’s the lemon.  This is the key ingredient, as it’s added acidity really sets this soup apart.  I even added the lemon zest and sprinkled it with a touch of cayenne before serving.  As with most others, this soup pairs well with a piece of crusty bread.  Enjoy!

Recipe: Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

4 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional good oil for drizzling

2 large onions, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pinch ground chili powder or cayenne, plus additional to taste

2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth

2 cups red lentils

2 large carrots, peeled and diced

Juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, mint, or parsley  ( I was completely happy with the cilantro!)

In a large pot, heat the oil over high heat until hot and shimmering.  Add the onions and garlic and saute until golden, about 4 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, salt, pepper, and chili powder or cayenne, and saute for 2 minutes longer.  Add the broth, 2 cups water, the lentils, and the carrots.  Bring to a simmer, then partially cover the pot and turn the heat to medium-low.  Simmer until the lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary.  Using an emersion or regular blender or a food processor, puree half of the soup (it should be somewhat chunky, not smooth).  Reheat the soup if necessary, then stir in the lemon juice and cilantro, mint, or parsley.  Serve the soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted very lightly with chili powder or cayenne, if desired. 

Source:  In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite Cookbook 

See you next week!


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