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What you need:
3 tbsp olive oil, more for drizzling
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp 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 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup red lentils
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
Juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
What you do:
In a large pot, heat 3 tbsp oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.
Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chilli powder or cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes 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 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.
Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée 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.