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Playing Chili Red Lentil Soup


  • 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


Serves: 4


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.