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Friday, January 17, 2014

Turkish Red Lentil Soup


Our weeks are getting busier and the need for quick, easy, and healthy weeknight meals is increasing! Paul is now an adjunct professor teaching engineering at the local university in the evenings twice a week and I teach religious education during the week as well. Both activities mean that we need to have something quick and simple or else we will be eating dinner around 9:00 pm (and that will most likely be cereal or one of Paul's infamous egg salad sandwiches).

I am a huge fan of lentils in all forms, but red lentils have to be my absolute favorite. I am always tempted to order dal or any other lentil soup made with red lentils because they have such a wonderful flavor and are both filling and nutritious. Luckily, Paul is okay with my lentil obsession as long as it is in the form of soup. He's really big on soup during the winter months, especially when served with plenty of bread for dipping. This soup can be made ahead and reheated (it's actually even better after a day in the fridge) or it can be made start to finish in about 30 minutes. It's perfect for dinner on one of those crazy weeknights.

Of course, Matthew won't touch this with a ten foot pole. We're still working on him. He tends to gag horribly on soups or purees of any sort (like mashed potatoes). I still have not figured out why and it majorly frustrates me. He likes the flavor but can't seem to figure out whether to chew or swallow each spoonful and ends up just gagging his way through dinner. It's really unappetizing to watch. If anyone has any suggestions on how we can cure him of this horrid habit, I would love to hear them!

I also would appreciate any suggestions on how to take a decent picture of the kiddos without them destroying each other. They are both so uncooperative! Here's a sample of last Sunday's photo shoot, just for laughs.


Definitely the most decent shot we captured.


And she's done.

In the meantime, this soup is fabulous. Although scorned by our son, it has been approved by the discerning palate of our 9-month-old. She loved it!



Turkish Red Lentil Soup
adapted from Whole Foods

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 1/3 cup (about 8 ounces) red lentils, picked through and rinsed
7 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and saute until the onion is translucent. Add the chopped garlic, tomato paste, cumin, and cayenne and stir constantly until fragrant. Pour in the chicken broth and scrape the bottom of the pot. Stir in the lentils. Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 25 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the lentils begin to fall apart.

Blend half the soup carefully until creamy. Return the blended soup to the dutch oven and stir together with the unblended soup. Alternatively, you can blend the entire batch of soup, but I prefer some texture. Gently reheat over low heat. Serve with a dollop or sour cream and some fresh bread!


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