Red Lentil Soup Recipe
A single-pot lentil soup with brown rice. Made by browning some onions, adding the rest of the ingredients, and simmering until the whole lot until its done.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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Heidi, your recipes and your PHOTOS are wonderful! Would you mind sharing with me what kind of camera you use to take your photographs? Thank you so much. HS: Hi Iris, thank you. I wrote a little bit about photography, and the camera(s) I like here.
Oh those Orb Spinners. I'm in Berkeley and we're infested with them this time of year too. They spin those giant webs overnight, and they span a great distance. I won't walk to my tomato patch anymore without waving a badminton racket in front of me the whole way. I do smash them, sometimes, because I don't want more next year! I have walked into webs in the past and have looked down to see one of them on my person somewhere and it just freaks me out!
Spider webs freak me out too every time! In my garage every morning it seems there is another one that was made overnight, and just getting into my car I have to use a stick to whack it away. Same thing on my bicycle in the garage if I ride my bike to work.... yuck!
Heidi, Hi, I live on the Central Coast of California. Every October we get the same exact spiders as you show in your photo. It's funny my sister & I were just talking about them & here you are writing about them as well. I always get freaked running into the webs too since they seem to be all over our yard, it's not the kind of spider I want crawling on me. It's strange that that same spider appears year after year at the same time during the month of October. The spooky Halloween month.
This recipe is perfect timing! My veg brother is on a low iodine diet for thyroid cancer, so I'm going to be trying many of your vegan recipes while cooking for him and his wife. No dairy, cheese, soy or iodized salt. It's only for six weeks thank goodness - I cannot imagine a life without those staples! I used to freak about those spiders too, the big gold ones, but then I read about them. They are orb spiders, and make the nicest most symmetrical webs. Charlotte in Charlotte's Web would have been an orb spiders. So now when I see one I call it Charlotte and they are less scary and are allowed to remain in the garden. But if it's a black window, I call it Scylla and run away :-)
I'm not big into adding salt at the end of cooking a dish, unless my previous efforts haven't made the dish tasty enough. Why do you not add salt earlier when you're caramelizing the onions/shallots/etc.? Re the spiders, I live in Berkeley and every time I go out in the yard to exchange my baked goods for my neighbor's chickens' freshly laid eggs, apples right off the tree, or herbs from her garden, I have to wave something around in front of me to break the webs that have formed overnight. I guess it's a small price to pay to live amidst lush greenery. Having grown up in NYC, I much prefer this to chasing cockroaches when you turn on a light at night. HS: HI Lisa, if I know I'm going to be cooking beans or pulses, I typically wait to salt until close to the end, so the beans don't seize up. It's tricky though, for example if you are using a salty stock...
Ah! The cat-faced garden orb. I love those spiders! Alarmingly large, yes, but harmless and fascinating to watch. I wish we had more of those and less black widows! I just love to try out lentil soup recipes! This one looks delicious. I'm a sucker for any recipe containing red lentils, they are my favorite lentil!
Heidi, you even managed to make that spider look beautiful. We have the same golden McNasty living on our porch (on Vancouver Island). AND I woke up this morning with a giant spider bite on my ankle... our bedroom window is off the porch... shudder. I adore lentil soup, never thought to put rice in it. It looks delicious. Just the thing for this drearblustery greydrenched day by the ocean. It will be great with some hot rosemary-aged chedder-pepper scones. hmm. I tried your garlic scape soup, btw, on your recommendation, and got your amAZing book. The soup was SO tasty, tho the texture I ended up with was quite viscous, like raw egg. Was that right? I've never cooked with scapes before other than to grill them.
Little Miss Heidi sat on her tushy eating her lentils and rice. Along came a spider and sat down beside her and scared Miss Heidi away... :) Not perfect but I couldn't resist.
This may be an old wives tale (from an old wife!) but I've been told that, to keep spiders away, collect some conkers, split the sweet kernel open and put one in each corner of you room. Guaranteed to work - maybe! Right, I'm off to prepare the lentil soup. Just beginning to recover from flu and your soup sounds just what I need!
garden spiders? I rejoice at their presence for they take care of the pests on my kale . mmmm simple lentil soup is just what I need, thanks for the great ideas!
This is wonderful ^^ I love lentils and am a vegetarian. With my busy college schedule I like to find simple nice recipes since I cook everything and time is of the essence. Stumbled upon your site and looks great. Take care and goodluck with the spiders -shudders-.
I loooooove any type of lentil soup... Thanks so much for posting this as I've been drinking Egyptian lentil soup for too long - its DELICIOUS but I need a change... As for the spiders, they terrify me too, but I can't bring myself to kill them - they are artists after all :) A friend of mine has this nifty little vacuum gadget which sucks them up and then you can safely release them into the "wild" or basically away from your lunch eating corner :) I've got to get me one of those :)
Hi. Great site. I would really like to do a piece on my blog about your Roasted Corn Pudding in Acorn Squash. I made it for my family this weekend and it was a huge success. I'd like your permission to link to your entry and then post my results. I hope you agree. -- Thanks. Jean
LOVE your recipes, Heidi! Any recommendations for a good-tasting broth available in stores? (Whole Foods, etc?) I live in San Diego and we don't have many specialty/gourmet/natural food stores apart from WFs. Thanks, and keep up the wonderful creations!! HS: There are a few, but I tend to use Rapunzel brand, the herb/sea salt cubes. But I don't do the 1 cube to 2 cups water the recommend. I typically do 1 cube to 4-5 cups water, so it is more lightly flavored, less salty. And then season myself from there.
Yikes about the spiders. We have spiders a great deal here in Texas. It surprises me that I've started to tolerate them, but when we first moved into our house, which was vacant for about a month before our move-in, there were these gigantic non-web-making spiders that were brown and hairy and would run (yes, RUN) across the floor if you opened the door at night and they were near. I suppose they desensitized me over time. (just so you know, they must have decided that we weren't leaving, because they no longer invade our house.) this soup looks lovely.
Following the sun through the house. This is interesting to me because I just did some research on Sue Miller, the author, as I was presenting one of her books at book club and she said the same thing....that she follows the sun through the house as she writes (longhand). Are you a fan of hers? Good recipes, Heidi! HS: Thanks for the recommendation Sally, I'm always looking for new (to me) authors.
Heidi, Beautiful pictures! I love watching the spiders making the webs through the window out our back door, especially in the porch light... but I've definitely been trained to double check before walking outside. We have those same large spiders in Maryland; do you know what they are? Anyway, it is also soup weather here and I happen to have plenty of red lentils, so look forward to trying the soup!
Hi Heidi, I made a similar soup yesterday.I had oral surgery earlier this week and I was still feeling yucky. My beloved husband, he's American husband, I am Lebanese made me his comfort soups and I was craving my comfort food. I gathered some energy and made a lentil soup like my mother used to make when we got sick as children. It is very much like your soup except that we use whole lentil, we run it through a hand mill then we add the rice to it. the spices that we use are cumin, allspice, cinnamon and black pepper , very traditionla in our cuisine. We serve the soup with toasted or fried pita chips and a squeeze of lemon juice.....That soup made me feel much better and took me back to my childhood..........Thank you for sharing...
Hi Heidi, Thanks for the recipe! I plan to make this for lunch. I'm sure it will be delicious! And, I just bought your book. It is wonderful! Both beautiful and inspiring.
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