Sunday, February 8, 2009

rain or shine red lentil soup

I am a soup person. I eat it no matter how hot it is outside, because I just find a warm bowl of soup so much more satisfying to eat than a sandwich or something cold. I think it makes me feel fuller, which is nice since I'm always hungry. This red lentil soup has become one of my all-time favorites since I first got addicted to it at Arda's, a little lunch spot in downtown LA. Now that I don't work close by, I have to make my own. This recipe is kind of a composite of several that I found in my online quest to duplicate this soup, and it's almost as good as the original. And this way, I get a whole big pot of it!

I thought of this recipe today because it's been cloudy and drizzly here in Los Angeles for the past few days, and when we have to carry umbrellas and wear long sleeves, we know it is the dead of winter. Time to cozy up with some soup and a blanket. This recipe is like a natural sunshine substitute with its copious amounts of lemon juice and the bright orange color of the lentils. You must squeeze the juice out of fresh lemons - don't be tempted to use anything out of a plastic, yellow lemon-shaped container.

Also, one note about red lentils. You may not have had them before, because they are not as ubiquitous as the brown and green ones, but they are hands down my favorite lentils because they break down more like a bean when you cook them. The other lentils retain their individual pebbly shapes, but the red ones make a spectacular soup because they get smooth and creamy and blend with your other ingredients. And, I just learned from Wikipedia that lentils, one of mankind's oldest cultivated foods, are the third highest plant source of protein after soybeans and hemp (really, hemp?). So, this high protein soup is especially good for hypoglycemics - no wonder I like it so much. If you have trouble finding red lentils, check the dry foods bins at Whole Foods.


2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, very finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 1/2 carrots, very finely chopped
1 3/4 cups dry red lentils (don't pre-soak)
1 1/2 cartons veggie broth (Each carton is 32 oz.)
1 cup of water
1/4 cup lemon juice
lemon wedges for each bowl

1. Make sure you chop the onion and carrots really finely, because you don't want a chunky texture in this soup. The lentils get so smooth from the cooking, that I used to think that Arda's must be running it through a food processor. In fact, that isn't necessary.

2. Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until the onions become translucent. Add the cumin and coriander to the pan, letting the spices heat briefly. Enjoy the aroma! After a minute or so, add the carrots, the lentils and the broth.

3. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a steady simmer. Continue to let it cook for 45 minutes or more, until the lentils have softened.

4. Stir in the cup of water to smooth the soup, then remove from heat and stir in the fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Taste for seasoning, and add a little salt and pepper, as well as more cumin and (especially) coriander at this point.

5. Serve with additional lemon wedges for squeezing into your individual bowls. Yummmm.

Lentils on Foodista


  1. hi addie! I'm so glad you posted the red lentil soup recipe! I can't wait to try it. On that note, at the new office there is a restuarant close by that has red lentil soup - I thought of you! Hope all is well and hope to see you soon!

  2. Hey Kristy, let me know how your batch turns out! This one is vegan, as I'm sure you noticed, although I think Arda's technically uses chicken broth.

    I'm jealous that you're near a convenient source of red lentil...

  3. Hi, i just came up on this blog as i was searching for referring links to Arda's. (ohh and i manage Arda's :) Our red lentil soup is fairly easy to make. We use chopped onions, olive oil, shredded carrots, red lentils, rice, tomato paste, chicken broth and butter. Unfortunately we haven't yet decided to release the exact recipe, but i'm working on it. For a rough idea though first saute the carrots and onions together with the olive oil for about 5 minutes, then add the rice and lentils and stir well. After that add the chicken broth (we use broth made in-house, but you could try to use bullion) and tomato paste and let boil for 30m. Then add the butter and let boil for another 15m. Let the soup rest for 1-2 hrs and it's ready to serve.