Like a bowl of sunshine, this lemony lentil soup is just the antidote for a gray, rainy day. We’ve been on the road for the past week, and a warming bowlful proved easy to toss together from pantry staples — a handful each of red lentils and yellow split peas simmered gently with a savory mix of carrots, onions and garlic, until the lentils just begin to give up their shape. Curry and ginger add some spice, and a generous amount of lemon juice at the last moment finishes it with a bright note.
Consider improvising within this cheerful end of the spectrum with other carotene-rich vegetables. We imagine adding some golden winter tomatoes the next time around, or perhaps some little cubes of yellow pepper. The stew-like texture of this soup depends on how the vegetables are cut, the aim is for a consistent size — called a brunoise for those of you sharpening your knife skills. If you have an extra moment, sautéing the vegetables and curry powder before adding the stock and lentils will tease out an extra punch of flavor. Lastly, a fresh snipping of cilantro or green onion adds a bit of painterly sparkle, to delight the eye as well as the palate.
Lemon Lentil Soup
2 cups yellow lentils (or mix of red and yellow), picked over, rinsed and drained
2 quarts vegetable or light chicken stock
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 – 2 carrots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon finely minced ginger
1 teaspoon curry powder (or 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin + 1/2 teaspoon turmeric)
1/2 cup lemon juice, or to taste
Salt and pepper
– In a large pot, combine lentils, stock, onion, celery, carrot, garlic, ginger, and curry powder. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered, until the lentils are cooked through but still intact, about 20 minutes or more, depending on type of lentils. Add more stock or water to keep the lentils and vegetables covered while cooking, and to desired thickness. Stir in the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.
Adapted from “Little Flower: Recipes from the Cafe” by Christine Moore.