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Author Notes: A couple of years ago, I was served a fabulous Moroccan Lentil Soup at the home of Jane Kramer. Jane is the New Yorker’s European correspondent at-large, often writes about food, and is a great cook. I asked and was given the recipe that evening and meant try it right away. But somehow I didn’t and ended up making it for the first time on a cold night only last month. Infused with cumin and coriander and containing lots of tomatoes, lentils and other good things, this North African soup took me on a Proustian journey back to a winter I spent many years ago in Tangiers. Next time I plan to double the recipe and have the extra in my freezer for a cozy, comfort food soup-and-salad lunch or Sunday supper. Try it soon to help stay warm while there’s still a bit of chill in the air. —Gail Monaghan
- 2 1/4 cups French or Italian small lentils, picked over and rinsed
- 3 cups diced onions
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons ground coriander
- 3 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon mustard seed
- 3 tablespoons ground fennel
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 cups canned plum tomatoes chopped, with juice
- 6 cups a good veal or beef broth
- 4 cups baby spinach leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- Place the rinsed lentils in a medium saucepan and cover with cool water by 4 inches. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower heat and simmer until done, about 10-15 minutes. Taste frequently and when al dente, strain, reserving both the lentils and liquid.
- Sauté the onions in the cup olive oil until translucent, about 5-10 minutes. Add the minced garlic, and sauté for five more minutes.
- Add the coriander, cumin, mustard seeds, fennel, and cayenne pepper. Stir and cook for one minute.
- Stir the canned tomatoes. Reduce heat to low and simmer for five minutes.
- Stir in the cooked lentils and 4 cups of the lentil cooking liquid and the broth. Bring to simmer.
- Stir in 4 cups or more of baby spinach leaves. Cook only until wilted.
- Add one tsp. of salt (much less if the broth is salted) and one tsp. pepper or to taste.
- Serve with crumbled feta and fresh chopped cilantro sprinkled on top.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe for Autumn Soup