I always gravitate towards making soup when the forecast calls for really cold weather (remember the vegan Creamy Potato Soup I made when we had snow here in early January?) Well, snow is on the way again tomorrow for my area. Here’s my answer: a red lentil and lime soup.
This simple and healthy soup originates from Southern India.
When I was a child, I thought the soup got its color from the citrus (sometimes lemons are used too). The yellow coloring is actually from turmeric, one of the healthiest spices out there.
Like most of the recipes from India, every family will have their own special way of preparing each dish. Their own combination and proportion of spices.
This is certainly true for the spice blend used in this recipe- it’s my mom’s.
Turmeric, black pepper, limes, cilantro. This soup is great as a New Year’s detox, or to ward away a cold. Soothing, warm, comforting– from its fragrance to its taste.
Make the spice blend:
Heat a 1/4 teaspoon of olive/peanut oil or ghee (ghee is traditional but olive or peanut oil works fine if you are vegan) in a small skillet.
To the oil add:
2 teaspoons gram dhal (“yellow split peas”)
2 teaspoons urad dhal (“ivory lentils”)
2 teaspoons whole black pepper
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
pinch of asafoetida
a few curry leaves (if available)
Roast until golden.
At the end of roasting, add 2 teaspoons of grated coconut (dry is fine) and mix well.
Grind to a powder in a spice grinder (or a coffee grinder dedicated to spices).
Make the soup:
Put a large soup pot on the stovetop.
Add 1/2 cup red lentils and 1 teaspoon turmeric with 5 cups of water water and cook until soft (about 30 minutes).
Lightly mash the lentils. The water will evaporate as the lentils cook, so add more water as needed (to get back to about 5 cups).
Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of the spice blend to start. Salt to taste (start at 1 teaspoon). Add more of the spice blend if you would like it spicier.
In a very small skillet or ladle, heat 1/4 teaspoon ghee or peanut/olive oil. Add 1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds.
When the mustard seeds start popping, add to the soup.
Remove from the heat.
Add fresh squeezed juice of 1 lime.
Garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.
Serve as a soup or mix in some rice for a light meal.