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
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.