Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Red Lentil Soup for a Slushy Day

This is my absolute favorite soup. I first tried it at a beach resort in South Turkey. It was 12 am and my husband and I were starving, and this soup was all the resort kitchen had available at the pool-side bar. We each got a steaming bowl with a hunk of fresh bread. It was delicious.

Red Lentil Soup

1/2 pound dry red lentils
2 tablespoons butter
2 small white onions, chopped
4 cups water
Salt, pepper, and Cayenne pepper, to taste
4 cups plain canned chicken broth
1 cup milk

In a large saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until just melted. Add chopped onion, salt and pepper. Saute for five minutes, stirring frequently.

Add lentils and 4 cups of water to the pan. Cook uncovered for 20 minutes and then cover and cook an additional 10 minutes, or until lentils are soft. Most of the water will be absorbed by the lentils. Add additional water 1/4 cup at a time, if necessary.

Turn the burner off and allow lentils and onions to cool for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a food processor or good blender and blend until perfectly smooth and set aside. Be sure not to leave any whole lentils or onion pieces in the sauce pan. I have a small food processor, so I blend a few cups at a time and transfer to a large bowl.

Return the empty saucepan to the burner over medium heat. Add 4 cups of broth to the pan and heat for several minutes. Add the lentil puree and Cayenne pepper to the pan and whisk until combined. Start with 1/2 or less of Cayenne. The soup will get spicier as it cooks. Continue to cook over medium heat until heated through, stirring frequently. Do not allow the mixture to boil.

Add milk and cook a few more minutes, until heated through.

Serve the soup with the juice of a lemon wedge squeezed into each bowl and a piece of soft French bread.

The soup will keep in the refrigerator for up to seven days. It tends to separate out, with the bean puree settling to the bottom of the container. Simply stir before heating.

If you live in Dallas, you can find red lentils in the bulk section of Sprouts. I have also seen them with the dried beans in Central Market. If you live in North Dallas, Shine's Mediterranean stocks them with their dried goods.

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