Senin, 10 Maret 2008

Something Spicy: Red Lentil Soup

This is my entry to the latest round of Waiter, there is something in my ... , this time hosted by lovely Jeanne of Cook Sister!, who has chosen pulses as the theme.

Although I've got plenty of Estonian recipes (as well as beetroot recipes:) in store for you, I decided to post something altogether spicier today - a red lentil soup. It's based on a recipe for Spicy Egyptian Lentil Soup in lovely Claudia Roden's "Tamarind and Saffron", but I tinkered with the recipe and the serving suggestions a bit, and really loved the result. It was on our table last Saturday, when couple of friends came over for a Scrabble night, and all four of us went for second helpings.

Spicy, exotic (well, for us:), heart-warming, delicious, comforting.

Spicy Red Lentil Soup
(Vürtsikas läätsesupp)
Serves 4-6

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds, slightly crushed
1.5-2 tsp coriander seeds, slighly crushed
1 tsp red chilli flakes
400 g chopped tomatoes or passata
400 g red lentils, rinsed
2 medium carrots, coarsely grated
2 litres chicken stock
freshly ground black pepper
juice of half a lemon

To serve:
fresh coriander/cilantro leaves, finely chopped
plain yogurt/sour cream

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add onion and fry gently for 7-8 minutes, until onion softens.
Add the garlic, crushed cumin and coriander seeds (I use my pestle & mortar), chilli flakes. Give it a stir and fry for another minute.
Add the tomatoes, red lentils, grated carrot and hot chicken stock. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, half-covered, for 30-45 minutes, until lentils begin to break up.
Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Dilute with hot water, if necessary.

Serve with a dollop of coriander cream (mix coriander and cream/yogurt).*

* Claudia Roden suggested serving her soup with fried crispy shallots. But I had a lovely Egyptial lentil soup with coriander cream in a new deli-café near university here, so I 'stole' that serving idea instead.