Curried Lentil Soup
Adapted from North to Alaska: A Season at Stonewall Place
Boldly seasoned with curry and chile powder, Curried Lentil Soup is a warming meal for nippy winter days. Though rich and hearty, this easy one-pot soup takes only 45 minutes to make. People who like spicy food may want to add more seasonings five minutes before the soup is done cooking. .Any kind of lentils will work for Curried Lentil Soup. Use large brown lentils if you want them to dissolve into the broth; for lentils that maintain their integrity (which I prefer) use varieties such as French green (du Puy), beluga, or Umbrian.
1 1/2 cups dried lentils
7 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 cups diced onion, 1/4” dice
1 cup diced carrots, 1/4” dice (about 3 medium)
1 cup diced celery, 1/4” dice (about 3 stalks)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
4 tsp. curry powder, see Note below
2 tsp. chile powder, preferably New Mexico
Freshly ground black pepper
Spread lentils out on a tray and pick through them to remove any little stones, clumps of dirt, or chaff. Rinse and drain lentils.
Place lentils and broth in large pot. Bring to a boil, turn heat down to low, and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes. Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic, curry powder, chile powder, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Return to a boil, turn heat down to low, and simmer 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lentils and vegetables are tender. If soup is too thick, add more broth or water. Five minutes before serving, taste and add curry powder, chile powder, salt, or freshly ground black pepper, as needed. Serve hot.
NOTE: If you’re out of curry powder, but have whole spices and a spice grinder, make your own with this quick recipe from World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey (Clarkson Potter 1999): In cast iron skillet, toast 2 Tbsp. coriander seeds, 1 Tbsp. cumin seeds, 2 tsp. black peppercorns, 1 1/2 tsp. brown mustard seeds, 1 tsp. fenugreek seeds, 6 whole cloves, and 3 dried red chiles (crumbled) until aromatic and just barely starting to darken. Remove from heat and mix in 1 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric. Remove spices to plate and let cool. Grind very fine in spice grinder. Makes 1/3 cup curry powder.