Masoor Dal and Carrot Soup with Cashew and Cilantro Pistou

By • December 30, 2010 13 Comments

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Author Notes: We eat masoor dal often, year-round. Most recently, they graced our dinner table on the day after Christmas, providing the perfect antidote to a somewhat rich holiday repast. It's filling without feeling heavy, while the cashew pistou makes it less austere. I always stir the hand-chopped cilantro into the nut and cumin paste at the last minute, preparing just enough of the combined mixture as actually will be eaten right away. Whatever roasted cashew and cumin mixture is left over can be used for other things. Enjoy!! ;o) - AntoniaJamesAntoniaJames

Food52 Review: AntoniaJames had me by the nose at the third step in this recipe. Have you ever smelled onions sautéing with bay leaves and a cinnamon stick? If no, please do, soon. To them, she adds freshly roasted and ground cumin and coriander seeds, softens some lentils for substance, combines carrots for sweetness and color, and squirts in a shot of limey vibrance. This sequence yields an exotically layered soup. The cleverly nutty pistou is an apt topper, adding texture to the puree. The flavors are at their most lively when the soup has cooled ever so slightly. cheese1227

Serves 4, generously

  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
  • 5 tablespoons of ghee, or more to taste, divided
  • 3 medium bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into three or four pieces
  • Salt
  • Tiny pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 3 or 4 medium cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup masoor dal
  • 3 cups homemade vegetable or chicken stock (or water)
  • 5-6 medium carrots (about 12 ounces), scrubbed and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup raw whole cashews
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • Juice of a lime
  • Freshly ground pepper
  1. Toast the cumin seeds in a small skillet just until fragrant. Remove immediately and pour into a small bowl. In the same skillet, toast the coriander seeds until fragrant. Remove and grind with half of the toasted cumin seeds.
  2. Rinse the dal at least four or five times in cold water, or until the rinse water is clear. Check for tiny pebbles or other debris and remove; rinse thoroughly again, if necessary.
  3. In a heavy soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons of ghee. Add the onions, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and a pinch of salt and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to turn translucent. Turn the heat down to low and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Turn the heat up and cook for about a minute, stirring frequently. Push the onions aside and add the ground cumin and coriander. Allow them to darken, then stir them into the onions. Add the ground cinnamon and garlic and stir for another ten seconds.
  5. Add the dal and broth, plus 2 cups of water (or 5 cups of water, if not using stock).
  6. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then immediately turn the heat down so that the soup simmers.
  7. Add the carrots and another cup of water. Return to a simmer, and cook until the carrots are tender, stirring occasionally and taking care not to let the dal stick to the bottom of the pot. Add more water if the soup seems too thick.
  8. While the soup is simmering, toast the cashews in a small heavy skillet just until they begin to darken. Put into a food processor with the remaining toasted cumin seeds and process until the cashews resemble a coarse powder. Remove and put in a medium-sized serving bowl. (Don’t wash the work bowl of your food processor, as you will be pureeing the soup in it.)
  9. When the carrots are tender, turn off the heat, add the lime juice, stir the soup well, then cover the pot and let it sit for a few minutes. Test for salt and correct, if necessary. Add freshly ground pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Puree thoroughly in a food processor until smooth and creamy.
  10. Warm 3 tablespoons of ghee and add to the cashew and cumin mixture. Add the chopped cilantro and stir to combine.
  11. Put a nice dollop of the pistou in the center of each bowl of warm soup.
  12. Enjoy!!

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