3 TB olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 TB tomato paste
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. kosher salt, more to taste
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
pinch of ground chili powder or cayenne, more to taste
1 qt. chicken of vegetable broth
1 C. RED lentils
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste (I used bottled lemon juice ::gasp::)
3 TB. chopped fresh cilantro
In a large pot, heat 3 TB oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and saute until golden, about 4 min.
Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chili powder or cayenne, and saute for 2 min. longer.
Add broth, 2 cups water, lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 min. Taste and add salt if necessary.
Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, puree half the soup then add it back to pot. Soup should be somewhat chunky.
Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder if desired.
OK, here's what I did: First of all I doubled it. Why go to all that trouble and not have leftovers?! I already told you I used bottled lemon juice instead of fresh. I forgot to add the extra 2 cups water...don't know if it would've made a difference or not. I didn't serve it drizzled with more olive oil; I thought that sounded kinda weird. But who knows? Anyway, we LOVED this soup. It has a kind of Mexican flair to it (just like me?) and was delicioso. I had to go to FOUR different grocery stores before I could find RED lentils. And listen to me people...are you listening? Really? Are you? Because I'm only going to say this once: you have to use RED lentils. You cannot substitute any other color lentil for this soup! I don't have time to explain why, you just can't.
Now here's a test to see if you were listening: what color lentils do you need? If you answered red then you are correct. I will also accept "roja" as a correct answer. Here's a picture so you know exactly what to look for at the store. One bag is enough to double the recipe. Enjoy!