Red Lentil and Cauliflower Soup

By • October 3, 2010 • 77 Comments

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Author Notes: Over the course of a year, I make this dish perhaps more than any other single recipe. Sometimes in the summer, I add chunks of summer squash and fresh peas right at the end, and in the autumn and winter, I often stir in a cup or two of thinly sliced cabbage, or of leftover roasted butternut squash or pumpkin. This tastes great the next day, but the lentils are pulses, which break down quickly, so try to eat any leftovers within a few days. This can easily be adapted for vegans by substituting oil for the ghee, using vegetable stock and stirring in some almond milk and an extra squeeze of lime at the end, instead of a yogurt-based raita. Enjoy!! ;o) - AntoniaJamesAntoniaJames

Food52 Review: The red lentil base here is a soothing blank canvas; one that AntoniaJames matches with the vegetable of the week, cauliflower, but also instructs cooks on how to make their own with an almost infinite combination of pairings, produce and preserves. I can attest to satisfying additions of roasted winter squash, spicy chutney and cooling cucumber raita and look forward to keeping this quick and easy base in my winter soup rotation. - cheese1227The Editors

Serves 4, with some leftovers

  • 1 ½ cups red lentils or masoor dal
  • 2 tablespoons of ghee, or vegetable oil or butter (or a combination)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • Salt
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ inch slice of ginger root, minced, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly toasted and ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled or scrubbed, and cut into ½ inch slices
  • 1 head of cauliflower, trimmed and broken into bite-sized florets
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
  • Juice of a lime
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Consider stirring in:
  • Mint and/or cilantro chutney (There are several good fresh chutney recipes on food52.) (See note below.)
  • Cucumber Raita (or crème fraiche, sour cream, or Greek yogurt)
  • Or almond or cashew milk
  1. Rinse the red lentils several times in cold water. In a large bowl, cover them by at least two inches of boiling water. Allow them to sit while you do the next two steps.
  2. Heat your soup pot, add the ghee or oil or butter, wait a few seconds, and then add the onion with a pinch of salt. Cook for a few minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent the onion from browning too much or burning.
  3. When the onion is translucent, add the ginger and garlic and the ground spices to the cooked onion. Stir frequently as you cook over medium heat, for about 1 1/2 minutes.
  4. Pour the lentils and soaking water into the soup pot, then add the stock (or additional water, if not using stock) and the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down so that the soup simmers.
  5. Add the carrots and continue to cook, stirring occasionally and taking care not to let the lentils stick to the bottom of the pot. Add more water if the soup gets too thick. The lentils will soak up the water and broth very quickly!
  6. After about ten minutes, give the soup a good, thorough stir, and add the cauliflower pieces. If you want to add some sliced cabbage or some roasted winter squash, this is the time to do it. Add more water if the soup seems to be drying out. Turn the heat to low, give the soup another good stir (but gently, please), then cover the pot, and cook for at least 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so.
  7. Check for salt and correct if necessary, taking into account that the chutney and raita, if you plan to use them, may also have salt in them.
  8. Turn off the heat and let the soup sit, covered, until ready to serve. (Refrigerate it though if you won’t be serving for several hours or more.)
  9. Stir in the lime juice and chopped cilantro. (I often don’t chop fresh cilantro when serving our favorite mint-cilantro chutney with this soup.)
  10. Serve with freshly ground pepper and Cucumber Raita. (My recipe for it is on Food52.)
  11. N.B. Sometimes I add a handful of small green peas right at the end of the cooking time, to give it a bit more color. Also, we often stir cooked brown basmati rice into this when eating this is for dinner.
  12. About the chutney: Search for “mint chutney” and “cilantro chutney” on food52 for some great fresh chutney recipes. Kitchenbutterfly's "Coriander Chutney" should not be overlooked!
  13. When adding roasted pumpkin or winter squash to this, I always add the juice of a full lime, even if I plan to stir in some chutney, to balance the sweetness of the roasted vegetables.
  14. About making extra for freezing: I often make a red lentil soup base for freezing by doubling the recipe, up through (and including) the addition of the roasted winter squash, if I plan to use it. The other vegetables get an unpleasant texture when frozen, so remove the portion you plan to freeze, before adding them to the batch you plan to eat right away. When you use the frozen base, thaw and bring the base to a simmer, and then proceed with adding the carrots and cauliflower, etc. I’ve also pureed the fully-cooked soup, with all the vegetables, and frozen that. It tasted great. Add in fresh cilantro and lime juice, or a good chutney before serving, if you do this. ;o)
Jump to Comments (77)

Tags: adaptable, curry, indian, One-Pot Wonders, serves a crowd, Vegetarian, Vegetarian

Comments (77) Questions (0)

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about 1 month ago letta

I made this soup with most of the ingredients and even with some missing items, this soup was amazing.

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about 1 month ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you, letta. So glad you enjoyed it. ;o)

Yve_facealt2

5 months ago Yve

I've made similar dishes to this many times, but not with lime added at the end. OMG! The secret ingredient. This made it so bright and really good! Thanks!

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about 1 month ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Yes, Yve, the lime really makes all the difference. I'm it turned out so well for you. ;o)

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about 1 month ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

That should be "glad it turned out so well." Sorry. ;o)

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8 months ago Joe

I made this yesterday pretty much as prescribed...the only real change was that I added a can of Muir Glen Fire Roasted crushed tomatoes when I added the broth. I think it was a good addition. Also, I used French lentils instead of red because that is what I had, and I used a little extra curry powder. I would probably add a little turmeric next time to brighten up the color. Overall, very delicious and healthy...it will definitely be something I make on a regular basis.

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about 1 month ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Sounds interesting, and delicious, Joe. Thanks for the tips. ;o)

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about 1 year ago Debbie

I made this soup today and I love it. I added turnip instead of squash and it was great! Thanks for sharing this delicious and hardy soup.

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about 1 year ago sarabclever

I'm having this for lunch today. I added some turmeric as I always like to add that when it seems fitting. Love this soup! Interesting first step to pour boiling water over the lentils--I've never seen that before; what's the reason?

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about 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I pour boiling water over them to start the softening/cooking process and also, to get a jump on cooking the soup as a whole. I suppose this is kind of obvious, but if you pour hot water/partially cooked lentils into the soup pot, it will start cooking much more quickly. (On evenings when I'm pressed for time, I actually put the lentils in a small saucepan and pour the boiling water -- which I've heated in a tea kettle while I'm rinsing the lentils -- over the rinsed lentils in the saucepan, and let them bubble away gently while cooking the onions, etc.) If you look at my Tomato and Kala Jeera soup recipe -- a first cousin to this one -- you'll see that I do that there, too. Thanks for your kind words. I hope you enjoy this! ;o)

Sara_clevering

about 1 year ago sarabclever

Thanks, that makes sense--funny I've never seen that before in a recipe, probably because lentils cook so much more quickly compared to other legumes. Will check out the tomato kala jeera soup!

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about 1 year ago sarabclever

Perfect: I'm making this next!

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over 1 year ago Ligu

What an incredible recipe! I made this in my un-air conditioned kitchen and it was totally worth the (minor) effort. Instead of chutney I used a little leftover salsa verde, crossing my fingers that it would be an ok sub. It tasted fantastic! Thanks for adding another stellar recipe to my arsenal.

Jen

over 1 year ago erskinechef

Thanks Antonia for another great soup recipe. My little chefs loved this!

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over 1 year ago LeeLeeBee

Made this last night. I added about two cups of cubed (raw) butternut squash with the carrots and about a cup and a half of green beans with the cauliflower. I added two cans of diced tomatoes so there would be enough liquid for all the veggies. Fantastic!

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over 1 year ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I am just seeing this recipe for the first time it will be on my table this week. I love red lentils, it sounds fantastic.

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you, sdb, I hope you do try it. We eat this, or a variation on it, quite frequently. With a salad, it's a wonderful, easy dinner! ;o)

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almost 2 years ago DeirdreMS

Any reason to not use green lentils? It is all I have.

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Sorry I missed this comment . . . Green lentils won't break down as well, so the texture/consistency will be very different, as will the taste. It probably will still taste good. I have to say though that as much as I like this recipe, I'd probably find a different recipe, designed for green lentils, and use that instead. ;o)

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almost 3 years ago KarenOCook

I was cruising Food 52 looking for something to make with both the head of cauliflower in my frig and the acorn squash in my panty and here is your delicious looking soup using both ingrediants! This will be made tomorrow as I have red lentils too. What luck! Love the various additions mentioned by you and the others to change it up. Also, the custom curry powder recipe was very helpful.

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about 3 years ago emarie

My new favorite soup!

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks so much, emarie! It's one of our favorites, too! In fact, I had some leftovers this morning for breakfast, with some toasted flax seeds that I'd pounded using mortar and pestle before stirring in. Perfect for a cold, rainy autumn day. ;o)

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about 3 years ago Louisa

One of my new favorites. Followed as per directions, but second time I added 1 t garam masala along with the other spices, and also as suggested roasted butternut squash. Served with the yogurt, toasted almonds and golden raisins.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

What a great idea, to stir in some garam masala! I'll definitely do that next time. I just roasted a butternut squash, which I'll use in making another batch of this; the garam masala will go beautifully with the squash. Yumm. The toasted almonds + yogurt + golden raisin additions sound divine, too. Thanks so much for the tips! ;o)

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over 3 years ago melissav

Hi AJ - would you be willing to share your lacto-fermented mint and cilantro chutney recipe? I would love to try it.

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over 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I use the recipe from "Nourishing Traditions." I cannot post it here, as it is subject to the copyright laws, but if you send me a private note via the messaging system here with your email address, I'll scan and send it to you, for your "fair use." ;o)

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over 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Mmmmm, I can just smell this simmering as I read the ingredients list.

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over 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Hahaha . . . so can I! (I have a batch cooking on the stove right now. We eat this all the time.) Thanks so much. ;o)

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over 3 years ago heroincookies

Perfect! Loved it, make it all the time.

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over 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Oh, I'm so glad. Thank you for letting me know. ;o)

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over 3 years ago JSCooks

Yum. Again. Thanks, AntoniaJames, for adding vibrant flavor to our weekend!

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over 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks so much, JSCooks! You eat very well at your house, I'm sure, so this is such a compliment. ;o)

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over 3 years ago stellasnap

I made this for dinner last night, and had some for lunch today! I served mine over jasmine rice. This is a great recipe, easy and delicious!

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over 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Great idea, serving it over rice. We often have brown basmati in the fridge, so I've been known to do the same thing, when foraging for lunch. Thank you so much for your kind comment. ;o)

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over 3 years ago trufflesnyc

I just made this tonight and LOVE IT! It's going in my regular rotation!

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over 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I'm so glad! Thanks so much for letting me know. It's in our regular rotation as well. I made it last week in fact, using brown masoor dal, which have the firm texture and shape of a puy lentil, and adding a couple handfuls of spinach at the end. It tasted great. ;o)