Red lentils are one of my favorite legumes - they are extremely high in protein, a good source of iron and don't require long soaking or cooking times. Their red-orange color will change to an earthy yellow during cooking.
My recipe below was inspired by an Armenian red lentil soup from "Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook" by Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman. My variation includes grated ginger, baby spinach leaves and dried cherries which add a little tartness to the soup.
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 1/2 cups dried split red lentils, thoroughly washed
5 cups chicken stock (use vegetable stock for a vegetarian version)
3 medium-size ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
1 cup baby spinach leaves, washed
1/4 cup dried cherries (or to taste)
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley for garnish
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, garlic, grated ginger and chopped apricots. Stir and saute for about 10 minutes. Take care not to burn the onions and garlic.
- Add the lentils and chicken or vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes. The lentils will turn yellow and start falling apart.
- Stir in the tomatoes, cumin, thyme, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes.
- If you like a smoother taste, puree half of the soup in a food processor and return to the pot. You can skip this step if you prefer a slightly thicker soup.
- Add the lemon juice, dried cherries, baby spinach and check for salt and pepper. Simmer another 3-4 minutes.
- Sprinkle with parsley and serve.