I had been planning something more elaborate, but S. was late coming home and I'd gotten distracted with reading, so a quick and easy soup was the order of the day. I had a craving for a red lentil soup that stayed rosy instead of turning the color of old yellow split peas, and didn't taste just like ordinary old lentil soup. This one was just what I wanted. It's creamy and bright tasting and slightly sweet. It uses a lot of tumeric, but somehow that doesn't make it bitter.
This recipe is a modification of one from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, like so much of what I cook these days, mainly changed to reflect what I happened to have in the house and to make a batch to serve only two people. The method sounds a little fussy -- cooking all those ingredients separately -- but it really isn't. You just need one pot going with your lentils while you do everything else in one frying pan on the next burner, and the timing is very forgiving. It makes enough for two, plus extra for one person's lunch the next day.
RED LENTIL SOUP
1 c. red lentils
1 1/2 t. tumeric
1 smallish onion, diced
1 t. ground cumin
1-2 t. mustard seeds
2 T. butter
a couple of handfuls of greens appropriate to sautée;ing, chopped roughly; I used a mix of baby spinach and "asian mix" that were the tail ends of those prewashed bags from the market
juice of one lime and/or a couple of splashes of vinegar
Put the lentils, a third of the butter, the tumeric, and a teaspoon of salt in a soup pot with 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Cover and let cook for about twenty minutes.
Meanwhile, take about half of the remaining butter and in it gently sauté the onion, the cumin, and the mustard seeds until soft.
When the lentils are done, you can leave them alone or puree them, which makes for a nice creamy smooth soup. It's a nice touch, but it's probably only worth it if you have an immersion blender. The point of this soup is to be deceptively simple, and it just won't be if you have to pour hot liquids into your Osterizer and back again. Unless you like that sort of thing, in which case go crazy.
Add the onion mixture and the lime juice and/or vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning. Then heat the remaining butter in your frying pan. When it gets foamy, add the greens. Sprinkle with salt and cook until they're only just wilted.
Divide the greens between the bowls and ladle soup over top. If you like, add a little blob of yogurt (it's good).