Inexpensive, planet friendly, über healthy, colourful, comforting, delicate, easy to find, easy to cook! Is this a magical new super food??? Not! Simply the tiny little unassuming red lentil. A legume not too many talk about let alone let shine as the star of a recipe. Mostly known as the main ingredient in Dhal, an Indian soup, the little orangey gem deserves a bit more respect! I will spare you the blurb on all the scientific blah blah blah that makes this lentil (or any other lentil for that matter) a nutrition powerhouse, I’ll just insist that it is. I am pushy that way :). One of my favourite way to eat red lentils is by making my own rendition of a Dhal wannabe. However, I have noticed that this quick cooking starchy protein is a great way to thicken other soups and stews without altering the taste while adding a bit more punch to the nutrition value. Here is my infamous little red ridding soup because it could satisfy a wolf of an appetite!
Red Lentil Cilantro Soup
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup celery, diced small
- 3 cloves of garlic, mashed and minced
- 1 generous Tbsp. coriander seed, crushed with a mortar and pestle (or 1 Tbsp. already ground)
- 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1.5 cups of red lentil, thoroughly rinsed and drained
- 2 litres vegetable stock (chicken works fine as well)
- 1 small can of good quality diced tomatoes (you can use freshly chopped, about 1 1/4 cup)
- 1 generous handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
- the juice of 1-2 limes, about 2 Tbsp.
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, heat oil and cook the coriander seeds a few minutes to release the all the flavour.
Add the onions and celery. Sweat until they start to become translucent without browning, 3-4 minutes.
Add the garlic and the lentils, and cook a few minutes more until the lentils start to slightly change colour, stirring constantly to prevent sticking.
Add the stock and tomatoes, bring to a boil and then reduce to a soft bubbling simmer.
Let cook until the lentils soften completely and start losing their shape. Stir regularly. It will take 30-40 minutes. If the soup is too thick, you can add a bit more stock or water.
Just before serving, add the fresh cilantro and the lime juice. Adjust seasoning to taste and enjoy…
This soup keeps well and freezes well. If you do not have diced tomatoes, fresh or canned, you can substitute with a few Tbsps. of tomato paste which you would add with the lentils before you add the stock. If you prefer a smoother soup, you can omit the celery completely. I like a little bit of a chunky soup but it is just as tasty without the celery.