Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Perfect Lentil Soup

In the not so distant past, I would have told you there is no such thing as perfect lentil soup.  Lentils were something I forced myself to eat because they seem so healthy.  Fortunately, I discovered I was just using the wrong kind of lentils!

This soup doesn't look like much, and there's no picture because I left my camera at my in-laws house on father's day...BUT it is delicious.

The key is the lentils.  I used red ones, which I buy from the bulk bins at my local natural foods store.  I was disappointed to find that they don't stay red after you cook them, but no matter.
Clarified butter is another recent discovery that I adore.  I guess you could use vegetable oil instead, but clarified butter gives a great flavor.

This recipe is adapted from "The Bombay Cafe" by Neela Paniz

1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
6 cups water
1-2 tsp salt
1 tbsp clarified butter (ghee)
1.5 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1.5 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 serrano chile, minced
1 tbsp lemon juice

Put the lentils and water in a large saucepan over high heat.  Partially cover, and boil for about 40 minutes, or until the lentils have completely disintigrated.  Skim off the foam and then add about a teaspoon of salt, or maybe 2 (depending on your taste preferences).  Turn the heat down to low and cover.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the ghee.  Toss in the cumin, ginger, serrano chile, and mustard seeds and cover for 30 seconds, shaking the pan.  Then pour this into the lentils and stir.  Stir in the lemon juice and serve.

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