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Red Lentil Soup with Onions

"The slight thickening added by a little flour near the end is traditional (some versions use the more modern cornstarch), but not necessary," says cooking writer Crescent Dragonwagon. "Omit it if you like."

2 1/2 cups split red lentils, picked over and rinsed

10 cups water

2 1/2 tsp salt

vegetable oil cooking spray

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1–3 cloves garlic (to taste), finely minced

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp ground coriander

2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup water

lemon wedges, for serving

extra-virgin olive oil, for serving

1. Put the lentils in a large soup pot; add water. Bring to a full boil, then turn down the heat to medium-low and cover partially. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are mushy, medium-thick and uniform, 4560 minutes.
2. Add salt and stir well. Continue to simmer over low heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally to keep the lentils warm.
3. Spray a heavy skillet with vegetable oil (or use a nonstick skillet) and place over medium heat. Add olive oil and, when hot, add onion. Cook, stirring, until onion has softened and is translucent but not browned, 7–8 minutes.
4. Lower the heat slightly and add garlic, cumin and coriander. Cook about 30 seconds (take care; garlic burns easily).
5. Remove from the heat and stir gently into the simmering lentils. If you like, scoop some soup into the skillet, place over medium heat, and stir, scraping the bottom to get up any last little bits; return to the soup.
6. Dissolve flour in 1/4 cup water and stir into the soup. Simmer, stirring often, until the soup loses any raw-flour taste, 57 minutes. Serve hot, passing the lemon wedges and additional olive oil at the table.

Yields 46 servings

Source: Crescent Dragonwagon, from Bean By Bean: A Cookbook (Workman Publishing Company)

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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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