There are many points to be made with this post, and I need to start by saying that this has been one confusing process to begin with – who knew lentils were so complicated! First off, I have to apologize for the picture. Along with the challenges that present themselves in the kitchen with many of my recipes & post-production with my blogging attempts, I also try my best at improving my food photography skills – and I am aware I am making very slow improvements, but just try to photograph this less than appetizing, visually offensive bowl of red lentil soup, I dare you.
My original idea stemmed from our somewhat on-going detox diet, which I have been using as a base for my menu in a much healthier attempt to feed our family. Red lentil soup sounds delicious! Although no pictures are provided with my detox recipes, I decided to search the world of Pinterest to get a better idea of what I was producing. Oddly enough, I only saw pictures of cream soups, and what I was looking for was a beautiful red lentil dish. Oh, how little did I know.
The red lentil is a complicated being from a complicated family. A dietary staple throughout regions of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Nepal, lentils have been part of the human diet since way back when, being one of the first crops domesticated in the Near East. Their colors range from yellow to red-orange to green, brown, and black, and also vary in size, which results in them being sold in many forms: with or without the skins, whole or split. This results in a wide variety of cooking times and recipes…ergo, my surprise.
My detox recipe called for a slow-cooking time of 8 hours! I had previously always cooked brown lentils, which were ready in about 40 minutes or so. Red lentils, however, are special in their own way, and it was until I returned to check on them a mere 10 minutes after leaving them over low heat on the stovetop that I discovered they turn into absolute mush in no time at all! Lentils with a husk remain whole with moderate cooking, which was what I was hoping for. But little did I know that smaller lentils without the husk, such as the common red lentil, tend to disintegrate into a thick purée, which leads to a whole different concept of what I originally thought my red lentil soup was going to be like.
So, in a lesson learned, the small red lentil easy disintegrates into mush. This is a key element in most lentil curries in the Indian Subcontinent, where boiled lentils and lentil stock are used to thicken most vegetarian curries…like flour! Stay tuned for another version of lentil soup, a delicious family favorite that my mother-in-law introduced into my kitchen!
For the Red Lentil Soup
- 1 pound (450g) of ground turkey or lamb meat
- 1 L of chicken broth
- 2 cups (400g) of husked red lentils
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon of ginger
- 1 red apple, diced
- 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons of curry
- 1 tablespoon of ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon of paprika
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
In a large stockpot, brown the onions and carrots in olive oil. Add the garlic with the ground meat and sautée until aromatic. Add the bay leaf, ginger, red apple, red pepper flakes, and spices to the meat and cook until brown. Add the chicken broth and bring to a an aromatic simmer on low heat. Add the lentils with the coconut milk & sugar and stir. Cook on low for as long as you wish, the longer the better! I kept them for two hours and the tastes were infused perfectly. Serve over a bed of rice and sprinkle with parsley or coriander!