My mom makes a wonderful red lentil soup with lots of sauteed onions mixed in at the last moment. I added apples and thickened the soup to make this side dish, a flavorful, healthful autumn puree. —Cara Eisenpress
Combine the lentils with 5 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a soup pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the lentils until they're tender and falling apart, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a frying pan, heat the oil over low heat. Add the onions and celery and saute slowly. When the vegetables are tender, add the garlic and the apples, and cook until the apples are soft. Add the spices and remaining salt.
Add the contents of the frying pan to the simmering lentils and cook an additional five minutes. Cool so you handle the pot without burning yourself.
In a food processor or blender, puree the lentils, reserving a half cup or so if you wish (this will create a less uniform texture). Thin with some extra hot water to reach desired consistency, warm, and serve.
I'm the founder, editor, and head chef at the blog Big Girls, Small Kitchen (www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com), a site dedicated to easy-to-execute recipes and stories from a quarter-life kitchen. I'm also the author of In the Small Kitchen published in 2011.