A hearty soup underlined by exotic flavors and uplifted by the bright taste of lemon.
Serves 6 to 8
4 tbsp [60 ml] olive oil
2 large yellow onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tbsp [30 ml] tomato paste
2 tsp [10 ml] ground cumin
½ tsp [2.5 ml] kosher salt, or more to taste
A few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of Espelette or cayenne pepper, or more to taste
2 qt [2 L] chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups [500 ml] water
2 cups [500 ml] red lentils, picked through for stones and debris
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
Juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste
1/3 cup [80 ml] chopped fresh cilantro
Finely diced hot red pepper
Best quality extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of Espelette or cayenne pepper
In a large pot, warm the oil over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Add the onions and garlic and cook until golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, salt, pepper, and Espelette or cayenne pepper, and cook for 2 minutes longer. Add the broth, 2 cups water, the lentils, and the carrots. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover the pot and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Continue to cook until the lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste, and add more salt if necessary.
Ladle about half the soup in the jar of a blender or in a large measuring cup. Puree (using an immersion or regular blender), until somewhat chunky, not completely smooth. Pour pureed soup back into the pot, mix, reheat if necessary, then stir in the lemon juice and cilantro. Serve the soup drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkled with diced hot red pepper and dusted very lightly with Espelette or cayenne pepper, if desired.