A light, spicy soup with a bold red color that takes less than an hour to make.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Pinch of ground chile powder or cayenne, more to taste
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- Juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.
- Stir in tomato paste, cumin, turmeric, smoked paprika, black pepper and chili powder or cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.
- Add broth, lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.
- Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée half the soup then add it back to pot. Soup should be somewhat chunky.
- Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder if desired.
- Nestle hunks of cod loin in the soup to gently poach for five minutes or so before serving. Delicious!
- Leave out the cilantro and give people sumac to sprinkle on top.
- Increase the garlic and cumin and added coriander.
- I did add a 1/2 cup extra lentils and more carrots. The lemon (added zest as well) and cilantro added nice flavors.
- Put in a handful of rice along with the lentils. It binds the soup and makes it silky. Not too much, or it gets a bit gummy. For 7 C. water (no broth), I use about 1/4 C. of rice, and 1 1/2 C. red lentils.
- I add 1/2 cup of bulgur at the same time as the lentils. It gives the soup a nice body. Also substitute a 15 1/2 oz can of diced tomatoes for the tomato paste. The bulgur and red lentils are what’s known as “vospov khema” in Armenian cuisine. Meatless and out of this world.