Red Lentil Soup with Garam Masala
Gourmet, February 1997

Makes about 12 cups, serving 6 as a main course.

2 1/2 cups dried red lentils (about 1 pound), picked over
2 medium onions, chopped fine
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
6 cups water
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

In a bowl soak lentils in water to cover by 2 inches 1 hour and drain in a fine sieve.

In a 4-quart heavy saucepan cook onions in oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden. Stir in salt and spices and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in lentils, water, and broth and simmer until lentils fall apart, about 25 minutes. (Old lentils may take longer to cook.) Let soup cool slightly (or look at my note below and proceed accordingly).

Gourmet instruction:
Transfer soup to a blender in batches and purée (use caution when blending hot liquids), transferring to a bowl. In pan heat soup over moderate heat, stirring, until hot and season with salt of necessary.

Gourmet Note: Garam means “hot” and masala means “spiced,” though the mixture is not chili-hot. Instead the classic garam masala spices called for in the recipe-cardamom, cloves, black pepper, cumin, and cinnamon-are warmly aromatic.

Radish note:
Scrap the transfer and puréeing in batches – just use an immersion blender until your desired results are achieved. You see how I look out for your “fewer dishes to clean” interests? And save you time? Exactly, but for some reason Gourmet Magazine wants you to delay your dinner. Still, they did provide us with a fantastic recipe, so I should give them some credit.

© 2023 Olga Massov