Pretty Lentil Soup
Pretty Lentil Soup Erin McDowell

You can say many great things about lentils (heart-healthy, low-cholesterol, superfood), but the word pretty rarely makes the list. After all, we’ve all seen our fair share of gloppy, gray lentil soups. The key to making one that’s gorgeous? Learning how to cook the legumes so that they maintain their structure (see Finishing Touches, below) and using heirloom varieties that are bigger and brighter. This recipe calls for lovely golden lentils, caramelized onions and toasty spices, and makes for a soup that’s pretty enough for company--or at least dinner and a chick flick.

Makes 6 to 8 servings
Start to Finish: 1 1/2 hours

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 sweet onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 serrano chile, seeded and minced

½ teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup white wine

2 cups golden lentils (available at gourmet markets and specialty grocers), rinsed and sorted for stones

8 cups vegetable broth (or water)

Plain Greek yogurt, as garnish

Roughly chopped cilantro, as garnish

Pinch of smoked paprika, as garnish

Directions

1. In a large pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and serrano chile and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes more.

2. Season the onion with coriander, cumin, salt and pepper, and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more. Add the wine, bring to a simmer and cook until the liquid is almost completely reduced.

3. Add the lentils and stir well to combine. Add the broth and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, then cover and cook until the lentils are just tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

4. The soup can be served immediately or refrigerated in an airtight container for up to four days. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with a dollop of yogurt, a sprinkling of cilantro and a pinch of smoked paprika.

Finishing Touches

It's the details that count! Try these tips

  • Lentils come in many colors, and each has a different texture and size. Any variety can be used in this recipe, but larger lentils may require a longer cooking time.

  • Slow cooking is the key to preventing the lentils from becoming too mushy--boiling the lentils too vigorously may cause them to split, break or become overcooked. Once the broth comes to a simmer, reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and stir the lentils gently while they cook to maintain their texture.

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