Every fall I start to crave this soup again. It’s one of my go-to cold weather comfort dishes, which I think has something to do with the fall colors — the pale orange lentils, the red and ochre and green gold of the spices, the red-hot Sriracha and cool sweet tomato. The heady smell of curry rushes through the house, infiltrating every corner of every room. You can’t escape it. But why would you want to?
Although this soup tastes complex, it’s almost unfairly easy to make. What, you don’t have cumin, curry, paprika, or turmeric in your home? Just add another swirl of Sriracha, no one ever needs to know. (Though seriously, these spices are good investments. Toss some in a skillet with olive oil, cauliflower, and peas, maybe a potato or two — ahhhh, so good. Also, if you’re out of red lentils but happen to have yellow split peas instead, this works great with those, too.)
As they cook, the lentils become a lovely golden-orange. It’s definitely flavorful and spice-y, but not exactly HOT — until you add the fiery Sriracha glow. I like to serve this with warm bread and cheese, which tamps down the heat until the next bite.
3-4 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions or one large onion, chopped
5-10 cloves of garlic (depending on your preference – I like a lot!), minced
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp hot curry powder
½ tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1 ½ tsp salt / ½ tsp pepper)
2 cups tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
2 ¼ cups red lentils, sorted and thoroughly picked over, washed and rinsed
2 quarts water or vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
Sriracha hot sauce!
As garnish, a few dollops of yogurt, and/or a few tablespoons of cilantro or chopped flat leaf parsley. And, of course, a[nother] generous swirl of Sriracha.
1. Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until browned.
2. Add garlic and the cumin, curry, sweet paprika, and turmeric, and cook for one minute (be careful not to burn the spices). Aaaaand now your home smells phenomenal. Add the tomato sauce, simmer 10 minutes.
3. While it simmers, sort the lentils, then add them, and then pour in the water or vegetable stock. Stir, turn up the heat, and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for one hour until the lentils are tender enough to smoosh on the back of your spoon. The soup should look thick and hearty, with a warm yellowy color.
5. I like to puree this with an immersion blender, but if you don’t have one, it’s good as is, too — chunky, thick, and hearty. Stir it up, then ladle into bowls, swirl a little (/a lot) of Sriracha on top. Perfect.
Natalie Eve Garrett is not ashamed of her Sriracha addiction.