Indian Lentil Soup


by: Tamara

Indian cooks are the masters of beans and lentils, and they draw on an overwhelming variety: pink, orange, bright red, and black. While Western cooks often enhance the flavor of bean and lentil soups with lamb, pork, or other meats, Indian cooks typically rely on spices and often on ghee, clarified butter with a wonderful butterscotch flavor. Yogurt is often used in combination with other liquids and wet ingredients, such as coconut milk or even cream. The best approach is to simmer the lentils with spices, onions, water and, if you like, tomatoes. Add whatever liquid suits you to bring the soup to the consistency you like (lentils absorb about triple their volume in liquid). You can leave the lentils whole or puree them. If you want a fine, delicate soup, strain it through a fine-mesh strainer. A last minute addition of chopped cilantro in a spicy soup balances the heat, while something else acidic, such as lime juice or vinegar; enhances a soup containing tomatoes.


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serves: 8

1 onion (chopped)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

2 jalapeno chiles (seeded and minced, or 1 chipotle chile, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes to soften, seeded, and minced)

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger (or 2 teaspoons ground ginger)

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 1/2 cups red, pink, or yellow lentils (picked over for stones and grit and rinsed)

6 tomatoes (peeled, seeded, and chopped, or 3 cups seeded and chopped canned tomatoes)

12 leaves curry (tied into a bundle with string) (optional)

1 tablespoon black mustard seeds (optional)

2 tablespoons ghee (or more to taste) (optional)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (or more to taste)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


Nutrition Facts
Indian Lentil Soup

Servings Per Recipe: 8

Amount per Serving

Calories: 209

  • Total Fat: 7.2 g
  •     Saturated Fat: 3.9 g
  •     Trans Fat: 0.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 15.4 mg
  • Sodium: 61.1 mg
  • Total Carbs: 28.5 g
  •     Dietary Fiber: 6 g
  •     Sugars: 3.4 g
  • Protein: 10.4 g

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1.  In a pot, cook the onion, garlic, and chiles in butter over medium heat, stirring regularly, for about 10 minutes, or until the onion softens but does not brown. Add the ginger, cumin, and coriander and cook for 1 minute.

2.  Add the lentils, tomatoes, curry leaves, and about 2 cups water and simmer gently for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. Remove and discard the curry leaves. Puree the soup with a blender until smooth.

3.  Bring the soup to a gentle simmer. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, cook the mustard seeds in the ghee over medium—high heat for 1 minute, or until the seeds crackle. Stir the ghee mixture, lemon juice, and cilantro into the soup. Season with salt and simmer for 1 minute. lf the soup is too thick, thin it with a little water before serving.

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