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Moroccan Lentil Soup

You ain’t had lentil soup until you’ve had this lentil soup from author Diana Henry. Seriously. Those of you not inclined to indulge in the ridiculously lovely chile-fried onion garnish, simply toss 2 chopped, seeded fresh chiles into the soup or stir in a dab of harissa instead.–David Leite

LC Soup Or Stew? Note

We gotta admit, this luxuriantly aromatic, richly satiating soup is so thick as to practically be considered a stew. Not that we’re complaining, mind you.

Moroccan Lentil Soup Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 1 H
  • Serves 8

Ingredients

  • For the lentil soup
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ras el hanout (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils
  • One 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 4 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock, canned chicken broth, vegetable stock, or water, or more as needed
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 tablespoons fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped, plus extra to garnish
  • For the chile-fried onions
  • 2 onions, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 fresh chile, seeded and finely chopped
  • Juice from 1/2 small lemon
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Greek yogurt, for serving

Directions

  • Make the lentil soup
  • 1. Heat the oil in a heavy pan and sauté the onion and celery until soft but not colored. Add the garlic and spices and cook for 1 minute, then add the ras el hanout, lentils, tomatoes, and stock or water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the lentils break down and sort of become a purée. The mixture will be quite thick—more dal-like than soup-y. If you prefer a thinner consistency, add more stock or water as necessary. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the chopped cilantro.
  • Make the chile-fried onions
  • 2. Quickly fry the sliced onions in a skillet slicked with the olive oil over medium-high heat until golden brown and crisp at the edges. Add the cinnamon, sugar, and chile and stir once. Cook just until the sugar has dissolved. Immediately (and carefully) add the lemon juice (you may need to dodge some spatters) and season with salt and pepper.
  • 3. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and add a dollop of yogurt and the chile-fried onions. Garnish with cilantro.

Lentil Soup Variations

  • Ham and Lentil Soup: Make the soup following the method above but omit the spices, celery, garlic, tomatoes, and chile-fried onions. Instead cook 2 onions, 1 potato, 2 carrots (all chopped) and 1 cup lentils in oil. Replace the chicken stock with 6 cups stock made from a ham bone (make sure it isn’t too salty; dilute with water if it is). Sauté flakes of ham or chunks of bacon in butter, adding 2 teaspoons caraway seeds, and sprinkle on top of the soup. Add a swirl of cream, if you please.
  • Lentil and Spinach Soup: Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy pan and gently cook 1 onion, chopped, and 1 celery stalk, diced, for 8 minutes. Add 2 garlic cloves, chopped, and 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add 1 1/3 cups brown lentils, 3 tomatoes, chopped, 2 thyme sprigs, and 4 cups water or chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and cook until the lentils are tender, about 45 minutes. If it seems too thick, add stock or water to thin it to the desired consistency. Season well. Shred 10 ounces spinach and add to the soup to wilt. Add the juice of 1/2 lemon and stir in 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Serves 4.
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