Originally from The All New Good Housekeeping Cookbook, this soup is soooooo good. Somehow these base ingredients combine into something you just can't stop eating. The apple disappears, but leaves behind a lovely sweet counterpoint to the spices. As written, this recipe is vegan (except for the yogurt), but if you swing that way, this is even tastier with some chopped ham or (heh) sliced hot dogs added in.

Curried Lentil Soup

2 T olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 large stalks celery, finely chopped
1 lg onion (12 oz), finely chopped
1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 T grated, peeled fresh ginger
1 large garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp curry powder
¾ tsp ground cumin
¾ tsp ground coriander
1 (16 oz) package lentils, rinsed and picked through
5 C water
2 cans (14 1/2 oz each) vegetable or chicken broth (or 3 1/2 C homemade broth)
¼ C chopped fresh cilantro, optional
½ tsp salt
plain lowfat yogurt, optional

In a 5-qt Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add carrots, celery, onion, and apple; cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add ginger, garlic, curry, cumin and coriander; cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add lentils, water and broth; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, 45 to 55 minutes. Stir in cilantro and salt. To serve, top soup with dollops of yogurt.

Note: I'm not a big fan of cilantro or plain yogurt, so I skip them.

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