Fall is a great time of year for warm and nourishing soups. The weather is starting to get chillier and rainy. Cold and flu season is near. It’s the best time to boost your immunity with an amazingly healthy soup.
This soup, a simple version of South Indian “rasam,” has a few simple but powerful ingredients- with cumin and black pepper as the stars – or should I say “superheroes.” 🙂
Cumin is an interesting spice. It has been around for thousands of years in many cuisines around the world. Cumin, as well as black pepper, is full of antioxidants and is known to fight colds as well as aid in digestion
Apparently, cumin was even used by ancient Egyptians in the mummification process. To keep the mummies healthy in the afterlife?
This soup also contains some heart healthy ginger, which is known for helping relieve nausea (have you ever had ginger ale for a tummy ache when you were little?) and even lowering cholesterol.
1/4 cup of red lentils
1 large tomato, diced
1 tsp oil (a light olive works well, if you are not vegan use a tsp butter)
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
A very small piece of fresh ginger (less than 1/2 inch), peeled & diced finely
1 tsp ground cumin/black pepper blend (see below)
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt (increase to taste)
A few sprigs of cilantro for garnish
I like to start the lentils cooking first, since they take the longest. Put the lentils in a microwave safe container, add about a cup of water and microwave for 10-15 minutes. Be sure to check after 10 minutes to see if the lentils are cooked or need more water and time. They should be soft and you should be able to mash them mildly with a fork when ready.
While the lentils are cooking, let’s start on the soup base.
Heat a teaspoon of oil in a saucepan over the stovetop. Add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start popping, add the finely diced tomatoes and ginger. Make sure the ginger is very finely diced or even grated.
Cook on medium heat until the tomatoes get soft and pulpy. About 5 minutes.
This is a good point to make the ground cumin/pepper blend. I like to make a larger batch and store in an airtight container for other recipes. Basically, coursely grind 6 teaspoons of cumin seeds and 2 teaspoons of fresh black peppercorns in a spice mill or coffee/spice grinder (that has not been used for coffee). This 3:1 ratio can be adjusted to 2:1 if you like a spicier blend.
Add one teaspoon of the spice blend to the soup. Add more if you like a spicier soup.
If you only have preground cumin and black pepper, no worries. Just add about a teaspoon of the cumin powder and half a teaspoon of the ground black pepper to the soup instead.
Add two cups water and let the soup simmer for about 5 minutes- until you are ready to add the lentils.
When the lentils are ready, mash them lightly and add the turmeric powder. Mix well and add to the soup.
Add the salt to taste. Let the soup simmer on low for another 5-10 minutes.
Garnish with cilantro and serve. This is served traditionally in two ways- either as a plain soup or with a little rice.