Lentils find their way onto so many of those lists of foods we SHOULD be eating but in my house, shoulds are widely ignored. We eat what we crave, and finding ways to make lentils craveable was easier than I ever expected. Over the last year, I've fallen in love with the lowly lentil. From Mujadara (brown lentils, wild rice and caramelized onions) to Moong Dal (yellow lentil soup with carrots and potatoes) to my new favorite Spicy Red Lentil Soup. The pop of fresh herbs and the bite of hot peppers elevate this red lentil soup to a whole new level.
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 large onion, diced 3 cloves garlic, chopped 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained 1 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp ground turmeric 3 bay leaves 3 Thai chili peppers, seeded* Sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste 4 c. broth (vegetable and/or chicken) 2 cups water 1 cup red lentils, rinsed 1 lemon, zested and juiced Fresh mint and cilantro for topping Sriracha (optional)
Add broth, water and lentils. (Homemade chicken or vegetable broth is always best, but even a bullion broth will do.) Partially cover your pot, leaving room for steam to escape as it simmers for about 30 minutes. The lentils should be falling apart at this point. Turn off the heat and remove the Bay leaves.
At this point, I let the soup cool a bit, strain it with a sieve, then use the stick blender on the solids, adding back the liquid a little at a time until it is smooth. Add the lemon juice and adjust seasoning (salt and pepper) if necessary. Chop fresh mint and cilantro leaves to top each bowl and a few drops of Sriracha if you wish.
You can limit the level of heat in the soup by switching out the Thai chilies for a milder pepper and skipping the Sriracha (Rooster Sauce) but do NOT skimp on the mint and cilantro. They are one of the keys to transforming this healthy and substantial soup into something utterly craveable.