In one word, this red lentil soup is hearty, healthy, vegan and deliciously warm and comforting. Bangalore is getting some rains at last, not that it should be the news, given that rest of India is still under the spell of Monsoon, but clouds in Bangalore simply loomed over it, downcast the city for days and not a single drop to shed.
This red lentil soup is perfect for such cold rainy days, enjoy it with crusted bread or crackers, this soup is a complete meal in itself. Red lentils are staple in Indian diet, we have grown up eating this almost every day, they form the core of Indian vegetarian diet. Indian dals are beautifully tempered with variety of spices but seldom it contains the vegetables. Hence this version of red lentil soup fills that void, the nutrition that comes from vegetables.
Brightly pink colored red lentils lost its beautiful color once it is cooked, the carrot, tomatoes and red bell pepper do add some color but not bright enough to liven up the mood. A pinch of turmeric comes to the rescue, adding a bright yellow color to the soup. But I prefer to call it “Red soup” as most of the soup ingredients here red in color. Tomatoes and red bell peppers are nicely roasted on fire, giving the soup a hint of smoky flavour.
Dried bay leaves which are used extensively in Indian recipes adds depth of flavor to this soup, along with cinnamon and cardamom pods. Few sprinkles of dried rosemary leaves and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon adds new dimension to the flavor profile of this soup. It is not absolutely necessary but you will find it amazingly complementing the nutty and deep flavor of cinnamon and bay leaf.
The soup draws its warmth from the cayenne pepper or hot red chilli powder, it gradually warms you up as the soup slowly trickles down your throat. Spicy and comforting at the same time.
Few soups I like it in chunky forms where you would actually want to taste the individual soup ingredient, but here I prefer this soup as smooth and creamy, with depths of flavor teasing my taste buds. If you prefer the chunky soups then do not puree it, or semi puree it if you want the mix of both.
Enjoy this soup alone or with crusty garlic breads or simply with crackers.
- Red lentil : ½ cup
- Tomato : 1
- Onion : 1 cup (chopped)
- Garlic : 3-4 cloves (minced)
- Red bell pepper : 1
- Carrot : 1 cup (chopped)
- Cinnamon stick : ½ inch
- Cardamom (green): 2-3
- Bay leaf (dried) : 1
- Dried Rosemary : ½ tsp
- Turmeric powder : a pinch
- Toasted cumin : 1 tsp
- Chili powder : a pinch or more
- Lemon juice : 2 tsp
- Salt to taste
- Olive oil : 1 tbsp
- Vegetable stock : 3 cups
- Wash the red lentils and soak them in water for 10 minutes.
- Roast the tomato and red bell pepper on fire, remove the skin and chop it.
- In a soup pan, heat the olive oil. Lightly fry the garlic and onions. Do not brown it. Once they are soft add the red lentils.
- To this add the chopped tomatoes, red bell pepper, carrot and saute them for few minutes.
- Throw in the bay leaf, cardamoms and cinnamon stick.
- Add the vegetable stock, bring it to boil, lower the heat, cover it and let it cook for 20 minutes or more till the lentils are mushy and vegetables are soft and tender.
- Cool it off, remove the bay leaf, cinnamon and cardamoms and blend it in liquidiser until smooth and creamy.
- Return the soup to the heat, add the salt, turmeric powder, dried rosemary and chili powder and stir it.
- Once the soup reduce to require consistency, finish it off with lemon juice, a dash of red chilli powder and top it with few toasted cumin seeds.
- Serve hot with crusted bread.