Red Lentil Soup

Red Lentil Soup Recipe

I tend to follow the sun around the house each day. From room to room, not unlike a cat. I like how it warms cushions on the couch in the morning, streams into my breakfast bowl at the kitchen counter not long after that, and then beckons me to the office through our west-facing window later in the afternoon. On particularly nice days I like to take my lunch out onto the back porch, settle into one of the mossy, rain-damaged chairs, close my eyes, and let the sun shine through my eyelids for a minute or two. And well, that was the plan when I made myself a pot of this unassuming (but tasty!) red lentil and brown rice soup last weekend. Then, bowl in hand, I opened the back door and walked straight into a four foot spider web.

Red Lentil Soup Recipe

It is spider season here, and if you forget, you pay. I can't count how many times I've walked into spider webs in our back yard. It freaks me out every. single. time. In part because the spiders that live in those webs are so large. Too large to smash with a paper towel large - not that I'm in the spider smashing business. I find the ones with the bulbous golden-yellow bodies particularly alarming.

Red Lentil Soup Recipe

Without going too far down the spider track here, I'll just say, my outdoor lunch quickly became an indoor one after I counted five spiders, webs in full span, within a ten foot radius of my desired lunch spot.

Red Lentil Soup Recipe

Spiders aside, I thought this soup was good enough to share. It's a single-pot soup made by browning some onions, adding the rest of the ingredients, and cooking the whole lot until its done - however long that takes. The rice is the component that takes longest to cook, and mine was tender in about 25 minutes. I topped each bowl with what I had on-hand at the time: toasted almond slices, some crumbled feta, and a few oil-cured olives that I chopped into little black flecks.

I used red lentils, but as you can see in the photo, the soup is actually more yellow-orange than red. Red lentils (unlike black lentils, or lentils du Puy, or yellow split peas) collapse and lose structure quite quickly - and in this case they shift color a bit. Don't let that throw you. And it's actually the rice that retains it's texture here, while the lentils provide the body for the soup. So don't be alarmed when your lentils stop looking like lentils after about ten minutes in the pot.

Red Lentil Soup Recipe

Be sure to pick through your lentils carefully. I somehow always find pebbles or clots of dirt hiding in their midst. Better to catch them on the front end, before you chip a tooth. And to make this soup vegan, just skip the feta at the end i bet some chopped avocado would be a good alternative.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 shallots, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

6 cups good-tasting vegetable stock (or water)
1 1/3 cup red lentils, picked over and rinsed
1/2 cup brown rice, picked over and rinsed
as much fine grain sea salt as you need

slivered almonds, toasted
black oil cured olives, chopped
feta, crumbled

In a big soup pot, over medium heat, combine the olive oil, onion, shallots, and red pepper flakes. Let them brown, and caramelize a bit, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the broth, bring to a boil, then stir in the lentils and rice. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the rice is very tender, and not at all toothsome. By this time, the lentils will have collapsed into a thick slop of sorts. If you need to add more water/broth at any point do so a splash at a time, until the soup thins out to the point you prefer.

Unless you used a salty broth, you will likely need to salt generously, until the the soup no longer tastes flat. Serve each bowl topped with almonds, olives, feta, and a slight drizzle of olive oil if you like.

Serves 4 - 6.

Prep time: 10 minutes - Cook time: 30 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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Comments

  • Heidi, All of these beautiful soups are exactly what I'm craving. I'm in New York and the temperature has dropped, the rain is falling and now that its the weekend, I can't wait to make some of these recipes you've been posting recently. You take such good care of us, your devoted readers. Thank you so much.

    kyle
  • Oh dear, I'm having the same spider here too! Wednesday evening I went out to walk the dog. Within 30 mintues this huge spider set up housekeeping across the entryway of our front porch. The husband is out of town until Sunday, so out squatter is safe for awhile. He's far too big for me to comfortably kill! I made red lentil soup for the first time two weeks ago. I enjoyed it so much!

    The Cooking Bride
  • Your spider is a garden spider--one of the orb weavers that spin enormous webs like the ones you've been seeing. They are totally harmless and will take care of multitudes and insects around your property. Also, the soup looks delicious.

    Emily
  • I love how delicious and simple this recipe is. The prose surrounding it is also gorgeous.

    Kelly
  • My husband also is squimish around spiders, so he hollers at me to wrangle and release them. I holler at him to wrangle any Texas-sized cockroaches that I cross ...yuk. But really this isn't an appetite-inspiring topic, bugs I mean. I will make the Red Lentil Soup when lovebug season is over...two things to look forward to! PS. Thanks to you I am topping everything with sliced almonds and crumbled feta. Brilliant! (I wonder how it'd taste on this oatmeal?)

    Nolajade
  • Hey, not everybody gets such big, beautiful spider webs in their backyard. And that red lentil soup looks like another good one to add to my collection (of red lentil soups).

    Ruth
  • Orb weaver spider! They're harmless so long as you're not a bug and weave big beautiful webs (sometimes eating their web every night and building a new one for the next day), but yeah, walking into any spider web is creepy. We had a big Cat-Faced Orb weaver Spider living in the backyard this Fall- that may well be what you have. Alas, she died with the first snow- I used to go out in the wee hours of the night and watch her work on her web. I believe Charlotte's Web was inspired by watching an Orb weaver work. The lentil soup sounds fantastic for these colder days, and I think I have everything on hand to make it. I'll definently give it a try!

    Corvus
  • I have yet to make soup with lentils - that looks great! Thanks for another wonderful recipe!

    Simply Life
  • As always, I can't wait to try this soup. I do hope you're able to avoid the rest of this fall's spider webs. I know how that can be, with all those invisible strings in your eyelashes and hair. Not the most pleasant.

    Kylie of Thin Crust, Deep Dish
  • I always have the worst luck walking into spider webs! The lentil soup looks delicious! With the weather getting cold, I think I may give this a try!

    Estela
  • You know, today is my last day off before starting a new job and...I think I may just make this for lunch!

    Gina
  • This looks delicious! Maybe it would be a little more flavorful with a dash of curry powder, particularly for those using water? It reminds me of watery, less spicy daals my mom would give us when we were sick in childhood. Thanks for the recipe!

    Namita
  • There is an official "spider season" there? Yikes. I have self-diagnosed myself as suffering from arachnophobia, so I also would have high-tailed it back inside for lunch. Soups with few ingredients are oftentimes the best tasting and most healthy - I'm sure this red lentil soup is no exception.

    Lauren
  • Heidi, this is perfect timing! :-) It's really really cold in Germany right now (almost down to 0°C at night) and I feel a cold coming my way ... so a big bowl of soup is what I need! By the way, I tried your Black Bean Brownies and the Vegetarian Chili at the weekend and they both turned out AMAZING!! I even got all the meat-loving guys to dig into their chili and ask for seconds ... and I guess, I'll be cooking lots of black beans in the next weeks ;-) (you can't get them canned here so I have to buy dried ones)

    Marie-Sophie
  • Heidi, lovely post that lentil soup looks amazing. And I am glad you are not into the spider smashing business, I get so upset when I think of garden orb weavers being killed, yeah I've walked through many a sticky web only to worry where the heck is the spider, but they are harmless and very very unlikely to bite you, they are scaredy cats! Take care, love your blog, Lise x

    Lise
  • Wow, that is some spider! The browny whitey one. Is it big or tiny? We're heading for winter. 0°C or below in the mornings and throughout the day during this week. Mittens and hats out of closet and no spiders in sight :). Good thing is that you can cook all that which takes forever, french stews, nice soups etc, and then dig in.

    Jessica
  • Heidi, It is spring here in Melbourne but we have had a few weeks of cold southerly air right up from Antartica. Soup still seems to be a good menu idea. I loved the photo's especially now as they seem to reflect time on your hemisphere and ours also. Your post alsoreminded me of our cat who would follow the sun around the house and would often be found leaning into a brick wall which retained the heat. Here in Melbourne we are craving summer and warmth. Our weather patterns are erratic, 16 degrees one day, 27 four days later! Menu's in spring and Autumn are always flexible! Rissoto one day, salad the next!

    karen
  • Hi Heidi! It's my first time commenting but I've been following your site for so long... I've tried a bunch of your recipes and they never, never, disappoint. In regards to the red lentils soup, I would add a poached egg. With such a cold weather here in Holland, a bowl of soup is all I can ask for. Best regards, Joana

    Joana Mendes
  • Hi Heidi! It's my first time commenting but I've been following your site for so long... I've tried a bunch of your recipes and they never, never, disappoint. In regards to the red lentils soup, I would add a poached egg. With such a cold weather here in Holland, a bowl of soup is all I can ask for. Best regards, Joana

    Joana Mendes
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