A Truly Great Lentil Soup

While on our trip up north for my grandfather's memorial service Matt and I made a serious local food score.  My aunt Maggan and uncle Darrell gifted us almost 15 pounds of their Montana-grown lentils.  Mmmmmm....I love me some lentils!  All kinds.  These family lentils warm my heart just as much as they fill my belly though, sentimental sap that I am.

We use lentils a lot in Indian cuisine, but also in sloppy joes, burgers, and soups.  ...which leads me to write about a great lentil soup which I fell in love with over the long, snowy winter.

There are two things that make this a truly great lentil soup--fresh lemon juice and spice infused olive oil.  It is modeled off a recipe from America's Test Kitchen, but honed to perfection...or my version of perfection anyway.
A Truly Great Lentil Soup  (serves about six)

For the Soup:
1-2 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 t ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of ground cayenne pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
Several grinds of fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 cups red lentils  (or green, brown, or black lentils)
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

For the infused oil:
1/8 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  
Add onion and saute until soften, about five minutes.  
Add the salt and spices and cook for another minute or two to really get things fragrant and flavorful.   
Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook for anther minute or two.
Add broth, water, and lentils and bring to a boil.  Immediately reduce heat to a strong simmer and cook for about 15-30 minutes (red lentils take 15 minutes, black  lentils take closer to 30) until at least half the lentils are well cooked and broken down.
Coarsely puree the soup in batches with a blender.  Or leave it even more rustic and coarsely pureed and just whisk the heck out of it instead of blending.  This works better for the red lentils than other varieties in my experience.
Stir in lemon juice and additional salt/pepper as desired.

To make the infused oil, heat the olive oil over medium until it shimmers.  Take the pan off the heat and stir in the paprika.  Drizzle a teaspoon or so over each bowl and garnish with cilantro before serving.

The soup is pretty swell alone, but those two garnishes make the flavors cartwheel for joy in my mouth.  I am stoked that we have fresh homegrown cilantro gracing out table from the garden now.  Same with the family-grown lentils.  It makes a good thing even better.


  1. ...sounds delicious...I need to make some...

    ~Have a lovely day!

    1. I know summer isn't really soup season, but man! It is just that good.


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