Chili Red Lentil Soup

Aired November 18, 2010

About 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Fresno chili pepper, unseeded, very thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon cumin, a scant palmful
1 tablespoon turmeric, a scant palmful
1 tablespoon coriander, a scant palmful
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1/3 palmful
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups red lentils
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 pound spinach leaves, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup mint leaves, a couple of handfuls
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, a generous handful
1 cup thick Greek plain yogurt
Plain or garlic Naan bread (available in packaged breads section of larger markets) or other flat bread brushed
Melted butter, for brushing

Heat oil, a couple of turns of the pan, or butter in a soup pot over medium to medium-high heat. Add carrots, celery, onions, garlic and chili pepper, and season liberally with salt and lightly with black pepper. Cook to soften, 8-10 minutes.

Add spices and stir a minute or 2 then stir in tomato paste and cook a minute more. Add lentils and stock, and bring soup to a boil. Cook until lentils are very tender, 40 minutes or so, wilt in spinach, turn off heat.

While soup cooks, process mint, cilantro and yogurt in food processor or blender into a sauce. Add salt to taste.

Griddle-toast the bread according to package directions then brush bread with melted butter.

Serve soup in shallow bowls topped with cool yogurt sauce and buttered Naan bread alongside.

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