Being Middle Eastern, I've eaten my share of lentil soups. I've been making red lentil soup for years and years, usually pairing it with cumin and lemon. But this time, I ventured out of the box, wanting something different. I was after something smooth, comforting and luxurious with a more complex flavor. This recipe was the end result of my concentrated efforts.
I brought this soup into work with me. My co-worker, who is married to a Middle Eastern man, and who has had more than her share of red lentil soup, said she loved it. She wanted to know how I made it so creamy and satisfying. Another co-worker also asked how I made it. They both wanted the recipe and asked me many questions about it. So here it is... I hope you enjoy it too.
This is a delicately spiced, healthy lentil soup that's finished with creamy coconut milk. It's really not spicy-hot. I purposely made it that way, so I could serve it with a bottle of everyone's favorite hot-chili sauce, sriracha, on the side. Each person can add a bit of the sriracha sauce to the soup (or not). Sriracha is one of my favorite condiments. It's wonderful in this soup, playing against the rich coconut milk and creamy lentils. Your own favorite hot sauce will work here too. Alternatively, you can bump up the heat by adding more Thai chili peppers to the recipe. But be careful, they're hot. One pepper doesn't overpower the soup with too much heat. I love the slightly tropical flavor of Thai bird's eye peppers, which come in red and green. I find them in my regular supermarket. Swap them for a jalapeno pepper if that's all you can find. Some jalapenos are hotter than others, so dare to taste a tiny piece before cooking with it. Removing the seeds and veins of a jalapeno will help control the heat.
Please trust me and seek out Rapunzel No Salt Organic Vegetable Bouillon.
You will thank me for this tip. Your vegetable soups will not be ruined anymore by strange unknown flavors found in canned and boxed broths and stocks. Rapunzel is my choice for all my soups when I don't have the will or time to make my own stock or broth. It has a clean, fresh taste that is delicious on its own. I highly recommend this brand without reservation. There's a sea salt variety too. But I use the no salt bouillon because I like to control the salt myself. If you want to add your favorite boxed or canned broth then omit the water in the recipe and use 8 cups of broth/stock.
This is no ordinary red lentil soup. For the purposes of the photo, I served it in a bowl. But I much prefer slurping it with a soup spoon out of a big mug with crusty buttered bread on the side. The soup is even better the second day. It reheats very well. It is a good dish to make ahead for company. So creamy and rich. .
Place the sliced pepper, cut side down, on an oven safe baking sheet lined with tinfoil and broil on high until the skin is charred and blackened. Remove from the oven, place the pepper in a covered bowl or wrap in tin foil to steam. Once cool enough to handle, peel the skin and discard. Chop and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large pot, saute the onion, chili and carrots in some coconut oil (or neutral tasting oil) with a pinch of salt until soft. Once they're soft, add 8 cups of water, the bouillon cubes, the roasted pepper, lentils, ginger and a half a teaspoon of cinnamon. Adjust the salt, adding the proper amount to suite your taste. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer, covered, until the lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender. Stir in the coconut milk, a few squeezes of lime juice and as much as the reserved ground cinnamon you'd like. Serve with lime wedges, lime zest, dusting of cinnamon, sprinkle of sea salt, sriracha and Thai basil. Enjoy!