Orange Lentil Soup with Curry Powder and Spinach
While conducting on-site research for my recent piece on Patel's, Brian and I of course didn't leave the store empty-handed. Over the course of two visits and much wide-eyed aisle-wandering, we scored a box of so-so frozen samosas, a package of weird pepper-dusted cashews, some adorable tiny eggplants (destined, sadly, to be sacrificed in a failed experiment in stuffing), and—our best purchase—a hefty sack of masoor dal—little orange lentils.
In addition to being a good deal prettier than their more common cousins, these vividly hued legumes—which, according to The Cook's Thesaurus, are actually a type of brown lentil that's been skinned and split—are smaller and require less cooking time.
Typically, my pots of lentil soup begin with several strips of thick, smokey, bacon, which I render first thing so that the fat becomes a flavorful base. This time around—because I wanted a spring-like soup that would complement the masoor dal's bright color and relatively delicate character—I chose to forgo meat altogether and used curry powder as the primary seasoning. Cayenne pepper adds a kick of heat and ribbons of spinach are a lively (and healthy!) embellishment.
ORANGE LENTIL SOUP WITH CURRY POWDER AND SPINACH
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon good-quality sweet curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (or up to 1/2 teaspoon)
2 bay leaves
2 cups orange lentils (masoor dal), picked over and rinsed
6 cups chicken broth
1 14.5-oz can tomatoes, passed through a food mill
1 russet potato, peeled and cubed (optional)
Leaves from one bunch spinach, washed well and cut into ribbons (or just torn into pieces)
Salt and pepper to taste
Saute onion in a little oil until transluscent. Add garlic and saute for another 30 seconds or so. Add tomato paste, curry powder, cumin, and cayenne and stir until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute. Add lentils, tomatoes, bay leaves, chicken broth, and potato. Partially cover, bring to a boil, and cook until lentils and potato are tender, about 20-30 minutes, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Remove from heat and puree soup a bit with an immersion blender (but don't make it too smooth). Return to heat, stir in spinach and salt and pepper to taste, and cook for a minute or so until spinach is wilted into the soup.
Be sure to visit the blog Kitchen Wench for this week's Weekend Herb Blogging roundup! (To be posted Sunday, May 27th.)
Categories: Main Dishes, Soups, Vegetables
Technorati Tags: weekend herb blogging, soup, lentils, india, food, cooking, recipes