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Red Lentil Soup

So, by now you can probably tell that I’m a soup junkie. Except for gazpacho (which I think of as glorified salsa) I’ve never met a soup I didn’t like. They are warm and soothing, hearty and satisfying, generally pretty healthy, and easy to make ahead of time. Pop the pot onto the stove to reheat for a quick mid-week dinner with a loaf of crusty bakery bread along side it and everyone will be satisfied.

I’ve always liked lentil soup, but there’s something about the green color that has made it a hard sell with my kids. Melissa Clark wrote a recipe for her NY Times column ‘Good Appetite’ a few years ago for red lentil soup and I thought the pretty red color would make it more appealing to the kids. I was right. When she’s not feeling fickle, Evelyn really likes it. Especially with little shavings of gouda cheese on top.

Red Lentil Soup
Adapted from Melissa Clark

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp cumin
¼ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp kosher salt
3 grinds fresh black pepper
1 quart vegetable broth
1 cup red lentils
2 small carrots, peeled and diced

Shavings of Beemster Dutch Gouda on top for serving (optional)

In a heavy bottomed soup pot put the olive oil and onions into the pot and slowly sweat the onions over medium/low heat. Once they have softened and become translucent add in the garlic. Stir for 2 minutes and then add in the tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. After it’s all mixed up together and the tomato paste has developed into a darker color and you can smell the spices add in the vegetable broth.

Bring the broth up to a boil and then add in the lentils and the carrot. Return the soup to a boil and then turn the heat down to medium/low and simmer, partly covered for 20-30 minutes. When the soup is finished puree it with an immersion blender. If you want to add some shaved cheese to the top before serving do so, although this is optional.

UPDATE 9/12/11: I’ve been experimenting with reducing the amount of fat in some of my recipes. The original recipe from Melissa Clark called for 3 tbsp of olive oil. I happily used that much oil whenever making this soup, but have recently realized that a little goes a long way when sauteing onions. I’ve now reduced the olive oil to 1 tbsp and it makes no noticeable change in the flavor of the finished soup. However, it does reduce the calories per serving from 22o to 180 and reduces the fat grams per serving from 8.2 to 3.7. It may not seem like much but over the course of a day, this can add up. It also keeps the fat at lower than 30% of the total calorie intake for the item, which is a better ratio for weight loss or weight maintenance.