Amanda and I were talking about soups today. I suggested that she might like to try making this delicious and simple Turkish Red Lentil Soup. It is one of my favorite soups, and comes together very quickly without any extra steps of pureeing, putting through a sieve, or peeling lots of vegetables. Red lentils have a nice flavor and texture. They are generally available at natural foods stores, but you can also find red lentils in Indian groceries or in the Indian section of a large supermarket.
This recipe is from the New York Times, May 10, 1995. It accompanied an article about dishes being prepared for the James Beard Food Awards, for which a Mediterranean theme was planned. This soup, adapted from Sultan’s Kitchen restaurant in Boston, was on the menu. It is a great soup for a cold day.
Turkish Red Lentil Soup
2 cups red lentils
1/4 cup long-grain rice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup peeled, finely diced tomato
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
9 cups vegetable stock or water
Salt to taste
1/2 tablespoon finely chopped mint
Put the lentils and rice in a sieve and rinse them well. Let them sit in the sieve while you heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Sauté the chopped onions in the oil over medium heat until soft but not brown. Add the tomato paste, diced tomato, paprika and cayenne to the onions and stir. Then add the lentils and rice and the vegetable broth or water. Stir well so that nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot, and return to a simmer. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, until the rice is cooked and the lentils have become soft. Stir occasionally as the soup cooks. Add salt to taste, and more water if you like.
Serve the soup with a sprinkle of chopped mint and a dollop of yogurt. This makes about 8 servings of soup. I didn’t have any mint on hand this time, and enjoyed the soup anyway!