Curried red lentil soup

It's time for some soup.  When the leaves start falling (and they already have here in NJ) and it starts to cool down and get dark earlier at night, I start craving warm, heartier foods.  One thing I love is soup and being able to make a big pot so I have leftovers for a quick lunch or as a starter for dinner. Making soup at home makes all the sense in the world because it's easy, nutritious, and you save a ton of money doing it yourself.  So I've gotten into the habit of trying out different soup recipes around this time of year. Generally, I like them all as long as it's hot and plentiful.
This time, I tried making a curried red lentil soup.  I was inspired by a similar soup I had at a neighborhood restaurant back in late Spring.  I wanted to replicate it back home but it started getting warmer, summer arrived, and it wasn't the right time for soup.  It's a great time to make soup now.

This was the first time I cooked with red lentils.  Not as firm and less hearty than brown or green lentils, they cook up and break down fairly fast - within about 20-25 minutes.  The red lentils, which turn yellow when cooked, pretty much dissolve right into the soup. 

My husband and I enjoy curry so we really like the curry flavor in this soup. Since we like a good amount of heat, I also added some red pepper flakes, paprika, and cayenne pepper into the mix. That, along with fresh ginger, makes for a zippy soup.  When the soup was initially finished, I thought I should have used more lentils for a thicker texture but I was glad to realize that it thickens up as it sits, and as you reheat the leftovers.  And this made great leftovers!  After enjoying this soup for a couple of days, I just want to keep batches of soup in the refrigerator all through the Fall and Winter.

For me, soup always hits the spot when it turns cooler and I crave something warm and nourishing. This one was a welcomed addition at our lunch and dinner table.  My husband was a big fan of it and that always makes me feel good.
It might be a bit weird but I topped my soup with some shrimp I sauteed with a little curry powder, turmeric  and other spices.  No real rhyme or reason for it besides the fact that I like adding shrimp to lots of dishes!  Here, I figure we have the curry flavor tying things together.  I was actually thinking this soup would work well with chicken in it (yes, clearly I'm thinking the obvious: curry chicken)!  I suppose I like soup so much because it's flexible; you start with a base and can often put in whatever you like, and eat it alone or with just about anything.

I hope you're adjusting well to the change in seasons.  My mind is definitely thinking hearty meat dishes and ways to use my slow-cooker.


I looked at a few recipes for ideas on replicating the delicious curried lentil soup I had at the neighborhood restaurant a few months ago.  I took what I liked from recipes I found, then added/subtracted ingredients to make what I think my husband and I would enjoy best.  

With the curry base, I think this is a great place to play with spices.  Next time, I might add some ground turmeric and coriander.  That's the fun part of savory cooking versus baking.  I like being able to add a pinch of this or omit something else, and not having to measure too precisely!


Recipe:

Curried Red Lentil Soup
Adapted from/inspired by a few recipes, mainly this one from Eating Well

- Approximately 6 servings - 

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, grated
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder (I used a combination of sweet and hot curry powder)
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Pinch of dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 rounded cups red lentils, rinsed and picked over
8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-heat.  Add onions and carrots, cooking until just softened, about 3-5 minutes.  Add garlic, ginger, curry powder, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and bay leaves.  Stir together and cook for about 4-5 minutes.

Add lentils and vegetable broth, stirring well to combine and pick up any fond, or brown bits, at the bottom of the pot.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until lentils are tender and have broken down, approximately 25 to 35 minutes.

Remove and discard the bay leaves.  To finish the soup, add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Serve the soup immediately or let sit a bit and it will thicken a bit more.




  

44 comments:

  1. Soup season definitely gets me all excited! Especially when we're talking curried soups...which is one of my favorite flavors!

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    1. Yes! I just made a pot of white bean soup this morning. : )

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  2. I love soup time and lentil is one of my favorites. I'm also a huge curry fan, so definitely need to try this one!

    Sues

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    1. All the same reasons I wanted to make it at home, too. : )

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  3. Yay for falling leaves!!! I'm so excited for soup weather and I just made my first batch a couple days ago! I actually had wanted to make a lentil soup but went with something else, but I think this will be the next soup I make! I'm glad you didn't make it too thick...I prefer my soups brothy rather than thick.

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    1. I love early Fall, when it cools down (and I know it got blazing hot here yesterday but cool is here to stay soon) and I love myself some soup! I love clear soups, like just a clear chicken broth but if there are beans and lentils and good things in it, I selfishly want a ton of that too. But it shouldn't be like too thick like stew, should be soup, I agree.

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  4. I love soup season too! Your red lentil soup looks fantastic, Monica.

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  5. Very nice comforting soup which is perfect for this season! Starting today I'm wearing a long sleeves shirt and scarf. We'll need more soup and stew recipes. :) Love curried flavor. Haven't tried red lentils. Looks very pretty!

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    1. My first time trying red lentils too. I like all types. This kind breaks down fast and is less hearty than others.

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  6. I crave soups when the weather gets cold, as well. It's been in the 90's here this week but it's cooling down soon...I'll have to try this!

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    1. I just love soup. Weather has been all over the place here, typical...but it'll settle down and get cooler permanently soon.

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  7. Nice and flavorful soup...like the touch of curry in it...yum!
    Have a great weekend ahead Monica :D

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    1. My husband was a big fan of the curry and it's a nice change. Thanks!

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  8. Soups are one of my favorite things to make during the fall and winter. There's something so comforting about a big pot on the stove! And yes, I love the flexibility of adding a dash of this and that. I love the flavors in this - bookmarking to try!

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    1. So agree! I made a different pot of soup today. Feels great making it and eating it, and stashing the leftovers for tomorrow. Thanks and hope you try it - I'm sure your version would rock.

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  9. i am adjusting incredibly well to the changing seasons; if those seasons were to change. :) i think it's supposed to cool off soon where i am, but tonight when i went jogging...STILL HOT. :( I'm anxious to make soup soon, though; this give me something to look forward to, and it reminds me that it's almost cool-weather time. yay!

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    1. When I made this soup a week ago, it was below 50 in the morning. As is typical, it got hot again to the point of over 90 yesterday! Major t-storms today and cooler again in the coming days. It's always like this around this time. I just love soup and could eat it all year - in air conditioning, if nec.

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  10. Hi Monica, we are having warm weather here but this red lentil soup is often made in our home regardless of warm or cold weather. Love the addition of shrimp on top.

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    1. I could eat this soup all year round, too. My husband loved it.

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  11. I'm so jealous you guys are having soup weather! I wish it was cooling down here but nope! This curried red lentil soup sounds so good! And I don't think it's weird at all to add the shrimp. I think it sounds amazing! :) Delicious!

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    1. Anne - the weather has been all over the place...cooled substantially (thus, the soup), then turned above 90, and now settling into the 70's today. Have a good weekend!

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  12. I've started to want lots and lots of soup lately too : ) Although really I could eat soup all year long! haha I love trying different recipes - this is going to go on my list! Now if only the weather would cooperate and start to really get cooler...

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    1. Hi Ashley - yeah, I was craving some soup and it has started of us, obviously. I do love soup all year round but this is when I love pulling out old favorites and trying one or two new ones. I've enjoyed every soup recipe I've tried - soup is just great that way!

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  13. I have a red lentil recipe on my list to mix up this weekend but your soup looks amazing! There are few leaves starting to change here in Virginia. Highs in the 70's today - ahhhh beautiful!

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    1. Thank you, Tricia. Soup rarely lets me down.

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  14. I love the spicy flavors in this soup, Monica! Pure comfort in a bowl. Looks rich and flavorful, perfect for a fall afternoon.

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    1. Thanks, Georgia. We really like the "kick" in this soup, too.

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  15. Yummmmm!!!!! This is just the kind of soup I would want to have on a chilly night as well! Its so hearty and warm and just looking at it makes me feel warm and cosy! And the extra spice kick! LOVE IT!! :)

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    1. Thank you, Samina. It is downright brisk here tonight...definitely soup season. : )

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  16. I think this looks perfect for a cool fall evening. Lentils are so good for you...and so affordable too! Thank you for sharing! Another delicious post and a great start to the week. I hope you had a beautiful Monday!

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    1. Thank you - I love healthy, delicious food that's affordable, too!

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  17. So comforting! I can't wait for cooler weather to enjoy bowls of hot red lentil soups!!

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    1. It is getting cooler here in our parts - I'm ready for more soup! : )

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  18. Maybe I should try cooking with lentils sometime.... :) This sounds great for a cozy rainy day.

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    1. Definitely...I'm a big fan of lentils.

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