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Red Lentil Soup with Ginger

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

After visiting a newly opened Indian store I was inspired by rows and rows of lentils they have for sale and endless spices where many of them were new to me.  It was incredible to learn and see in one place how many varieties of lentils exist. The quick lentil soup I usually make is not vegetarian (it contains a bouillon cube and bacon that makes it similar to pea soup). Today's soup is also quick and easy, but hearty and filling in spite of being entirely vegetarian. I never added ginger to a soup, leaving it mostly to meat dishes. I was, oh, so happy to have added it this time. Please do not skip this step: ginger completely changed the taste (and after taste) of the soup - added fire, depth and mystery, if you will.
I used red lentils because it takes just about 15 minutes for them to be cooked through. :)
What you need
1.5 cups red lentils
6-7 cups filtered water
1 medium potato, peeled and quartered
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
Ground coriander
Ground nutmeg
White pepper
1 Tbsp chopped greens of your choice
Salt (I used sea salt)
White pepper

Time: 35-40 minutes
Feeds 4-6 people

Place a pot with water and potatoes on high heat, bring to boil, add salt, reduce heat to medium and boil until potatoes are almost soft.
Rinse lentils with cold water through a fine sieve, add them to potatoes, stir. When the soup starts boiling again, remove foam from the surface.
When potatoes are soft (pierced with a small knife), take them out, mash with a fork and put back to the soup (this manipulation will add creaminess).
Saute onions in oil until translucent and slightly caramelized, add celery, cook another minute, set aside.
When lentils are soft, add onions and celery, adjust salt, add more boiling water if the soup is too thick for you, and simmer on low for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add garlic, ginger, greens, a dash of each - white pepper, coriander and nutmeg, stir well. Let the soup stand covered and brew for a few minutes before serving.
Serve with more chopped greens.
Creamy and fragrant, this soup will definitely warm up your heart and soul on a chilly winter day. M-m-m-m- m...

When choosing spices for the soup, I went with the instinct, so to speak. You can choose spices of your choice and add more than just a dash. 'Less is more' is my personal way with spices, especially in soups. To my perception, ginger is king here. I would not recommend to use powdered ginger in lieu of the fresh one - the aroma is incomparable.
Potato can be skipped - it's also my personal choice. To make the soup creamy, either boil lentils more until they fall apart or mash a part of them and put back to the soup.