In my palette of dried beans and lentils, it is the red lentil that is used least of all. I am not sure why. Its colour is lively, it is so easy to cook, does not require previous soaking and it falls to a wonderful creamy mush as it cooks. Perfect for when there is never enough time.
Red lentils were one of the four pulses commonly available as I was growing up – red lentils, split peas, yellow split peas, barley – and was often thrown by the handful into overcooked soups and stews, left bland and forgotten at the bottom of the dish in an era when spices and herbs were not to be found in any Proper Country Australian Housewife’s kitchen. These women knew how to cook vegetables and meat for their men, but not “these dried things”.
That certainly has changed. This red lentil, called Masoor Dal in India, has a solid place in the pantry now. It is not to be confused with Toor Dal, commonly called Red Gram or Red Lentils in Indian recipes.
Spicy Rustic Red Lentil Soup with Thick Thick Yoghurt
Source : inspired by Turquoise
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins
Serves: 4 – 6 people, depending how you use it
250g red lentils
2 Tblspn olive oil
2 carrots, diced finely
1 onion, diced finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 tspn paprika
1 tspn cumin
1.5 tspn sweet paprika
1 Tblspn tomato paste (or use home-made tomato paste)
1.5l vegetable stock
finely grated rind of half a lemon
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tomato, seeded and diced
Sauté the carrot, onion and garlic in the oil over a low heat for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the paprika, sweet paprika and cumin, and continue to cook over low heat for 6 – 8 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften.
Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another minute or two. Add the lentils and stock and bring to the boil.
Cook for 20 – 30 minutes, until the lentils are mushy and the vegetables cooked. Stir from time to time. Add the diced tomato and cook for another 10 minutes.
Beat the yoghurt with the herbs, or cut the feta into cubes and roll in the herbs.
Serve the soup with feta cubes or a large dollop of thick thick yoghurt.