the heat of the moment January 29, 2009

As anyone who has read this blog with any regularity can attest, I am a huge fan of soup. Both emotionally and physically, it makes me feel good. Another one of my culinary loves is Indian Food. The warming spices and the slow cooked, sultry taste of it always makes me feel both fiery and cozy at the same time.

This soup came about rather serendipitously, I must say. I had purchased some red lentils at the local farmers market in hopes of finally trying to cook them at home – I've really only made brown lentils in dishes at home. I had also recently run across a jar of Harissa at a gourmet store, something I had hoped to keep on hand around the house. Then, perusing the Cooking Light 2008 cookbook, I see this recipe for a light and not pureed lentil soup – neither of which I normally associate with soups of this kind.

The chunky texture of the soup gives all of the ingredients ample opportunity to shine without one overpowering the other. The soup comes together quickly – in about 40 minutes from start to finish. I added a little extra smoked paprika and harissa for a tad more heat. This would also be lovely with a little cumin-scented yogurt or creme fraiche for a little richer dish. 

 Chunky Dal Lentil Soup – recipe originally found here at Cooking Light – serves 5     

*  1 1/2  teaspoons  olive oil
    * 1/2  cup  chopped onion
    * 1  teaspoon  minced garlic
    * 1 1/2  teaspoons  minced peeled fresh ginger
    * 3/4  teaspoon  Spanish smoked paprika
    * 1/2  teaspoon  salt
    * 1/4  teaspoon  ground cumin
    * 1/8  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
    * 3  cups  water
    * 1  cup  dried red lentils, rinsed and drained
    * 1  cup  canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
    * 1  (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
    * 1  tablespoon  fresh lemon juice
    * 1  teaspoon  harissa
    * Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

– Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook 6 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in ginger, paprika, salt, cumin, and pepper; cook 1 minute. Add 3 cups water, lentils, chickpeas, and tomatoes; bring to a boil.

– Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in lemon juice and harissa. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro, if desired.


Michele Jan 29, 2009 11:01 am

I am not a fan of Indian Food but I do love soup. I would definitely try this. It looks great!

Tricia Tinsley Jan 29, 2009 02:01 pm

I am going to be checking back in for more of your soup recipes for sure!
Speaking of lentils, I wish you could find a recipe for a Colonel Mustard sandwich spread.
They had it at my fave veggie resto in Athens in 1991 or so. It was very yellow, and very yummy.

Ted Jan 30, 2009 01:01 pm

Sounds great! Where did you find the harissa? I have been looking for it and canot locate a source.

Amy Jan 31, 2009 09:01 am

MMm, this sounds delicious! I’ll have to give it a try.

Chou Feb 1, 2009 06:02 am

We practically live on soup (especially lentil soup) in my house during the winter. Thanks for sharing!

Mike Stock Feb 1, 2009 04:02 pm

You post your recipe and the next day they have red lentil soup on You ARE the leader…

tamih Feb 2, 2009 07:02 am

I found Harissa at Barrelman, which is the wine store connected to Eno on Peachtree Rd.
– tami

Nav Feb 9, 2009 09:02 am

I made this from your recipe a few weeks back – thanks – it was really good and you made it easy to create. btw the pictures help – and they look great :-)
I swapped Harissa for a light Garam Masala which seemed to work well.

emiglia Mar 11, 2009 03:03 am

I made this last night for dinner (with substantial changes) but I loved it all the same. I added a lot more spice to mine… to see my changes, you can check out my post if you like.
Thanks again for the recipe!

Jen in Houston Apr 23, 2009 11:04 am

To those looking for a place to buy harissa – I found it at World Market (aka CostPlus to some). That place is terrific for interesting spice mixes.

[…] also soup. I made a recipe similar to this some time ago…but this one comes together in a flash – it’s just not as […]

Halley Aug 23, 2014 04:08 pm

I just realized that I have been making this soup for 5 years now. I became a vegan shortly after I first tried it and is soup has become one of my favorite recipes. I make large batches and can it and eat it year round. Thank you so much for sharing this!