Red Lentil Soup

My sister Evan emailed me this recipe from New York Times Cooking. She said she had just made it and really liked it a lot. It looked really good so we made it last night. I got red lentils from Smart and Final. They sell stuff like that in bulk and I was able to get only a cup of lentils. I followed the recipe from NYT Cooking, but it tasted thin to us; not enough spice and flavor. As we frequently do Laura and I collaborated to adjust the seasonings. We added additional cumin and chili powder. We also added paprika, coriander and turmeric ’cause we like those spices and they seemed to go with the recipe. The original called for using an immersion blender to puree half the soup. Instead, because I was lazy and did not want to get my blender dirty, I added some mashed potato flakes to thicken the broth. (I had just watched Jacques Pepin do the same thing on one of his cooking shows.) The recipe called for adding lemon juice at the end. I tried adding the lemon juice to a small portion of soup to try it. I did not like it; the lemon kind of overpowered it. So I chose to leave it out and offer it as an optional addition. Finishing with some cilantro, a sprinkle of chili powder, and a drizzle of olive oil made it just right. Next time I might want to toss in some toasted garlic croutons as well. Enjoy!


Author: Jim Kirkley

Serves: 4

Red Lentil Soup


3 tablespoons, olive oil – more for drizzling
1 large, onion – chopped
2 garlic cloves – minced
1 tablespoon, tomato paste
1 tablespoon, ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon, kosher salt – more to taste
1/4 teaspoon, ground black pepper
1 Pinch, ground chili powder or cayenne – more to taste
1 teaspoon, coriander
1 teaspoon, paprika
1 teaspoon, turmeric
1 quart, chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups, water
1 cup, red lentils
2 large, carrots – peeled and diced
2 tablespoons, mashed potato flakes
Juice of 1/2 lemon – more to taste
3 tablespoons, chopped fresh cilantro


  1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and saute until golden, about 4 minutes.
  2. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper chili powder or cayenne, coriander, paprika, and turmeric and saute for 2 minutes longer.
  3. Add broth, 2 cups water, lentils and carrots. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes.
  4. Thicken soup with mashed potato flakes. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  5. Serve soup topped with cilantro and drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder. Sprinkle with lemon juice if desired.

Using vegetable broth makes the recipe vegan.


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