Red Lentil Soup

Adapted by Courtney from Vegetarian Times

A simple yet sensational soup that features red lentils, autumn vegetables, fresh spinach and a generous amount of garlic. For a lively variation, stir in a tiny dollop of chili paste or hot pepper sauce and/or sprinkle each portion with a handful of chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley. Note: They say to puree the lentils, but I never do and think it works great! I like my soups chunky, but it is up to you!

1 cup red lentils, sorted and rinsed

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp. salt, or more to taste

2 medium onions, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. ground coriander

2 medium parsnips, cut into 1/2-inch dice

2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 small bunch spinach (8 oz.), rinsed well, thick stems removed, and torn into bite-sized pieces

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

Pinch of cayenne

In medium saucepan, combine lentils, bay leaf and 4 cups cold water.  Cover partially and bring to a boil over high heat. Mix well, reduce heat to low and simmer until lentils are tender, about 12 minutes.

Remove bay leaf and stir in 1/2 tsp. salt. Purée lentil mixture with an immersion blender or in a blender until smooth. Set aside. (This step is optional–I don’t really like to puree my soups. I just leave the lentils whole)

While lentils are cooking, heat a large pot over medium-low heat with some broth/water to sauté. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, cumin and coriander and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Stir in parsnips, carrots, salt to taste and 1 1/2 cups water. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until vegetables are tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Stir spinach and lemon juice into vegetable mixture. Cover and cook until spinach is just wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in reserved lentil purée and cayenne and warm through. Taste and season with salt and cayenne. Serve hot.

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