Red or Masoor lentils are a great ingredient when you want to cook something for yourself but have little time. Their cooking time is much less than your average pulse, and they’re a staple in Indian cuisine for all sorts of Dal dishes. They can also be found in North African cuisine and are usually referred to as pink or coral lentils.
Important for slow carb cooking is that about 30% of green lentils’ calories are from protein, and they have the third highest level in protein, by weight, of any legume or nut. Lentils are only topped by soybeans and hemp. Red or pink lentils only contain about 11% of protein.
Nevertheless, lentils in general are an inexpensive source of protein and thus also ideal for vegetarians.
For 4 people you will need
- 1 cup of red lentils, sorted and thoroughly rinced
- 3 cups or 750 ml of vegetable stock
- 2 small-medium size tomatoes, diced
- 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
- 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons of ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon of turmeric
- a pinch of cayenne pepper
- a pinch of ground cloves
- a pinch of cinnamon
- a 2-3 cm piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 1-2 green chillies, finely chopped (with or without seeds, seeds = more heat)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 lemon (or lime)
- extra virgin olive oil or ghee for frying
- salt to taste
- fresh coriander (cilantro) finely chopped to top your soup when ready to serve
Start off your Indian lentil soup by frying the mustard seeds in a skillet at high temperature. When they start to pop add a bit of olive oil, the onion and a pinch of salt which makes the onion cook faster. Reduce the heat to medium and fry for about 3 minutes. Then add the garlic and ginger as well as the green chillies. Fry everything for another 2-3 minutes, then add all of your ground spices (If you prefer coriander and cumin seeds you can add them earlier).
Stir everything to combine the ingredients. Add a little bit of your vegetable stock to your skillet just to loosen everything and scrape with a spatula or wooden spoon. You don’t want to lose any of the goodness that is in your pan. Now transfer the content of your skillet into your cooking pot. Add the red lentils, tomatoes and the rest of the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then cover the pot with a lit and lower the heat to medium-low. Let the soup simmer for about 20 min, give it an occasional stir. It is ready when you get a thickish consistency.
Lastly, add the lemon or lime juice and season with salt to your taste. Serve with fresh, finely chopped, coriander (cilantro).
This delicious soup is ready in only about 30 minutes and only requires 10 minutes of actual preparation time. I think it is a really nice slow carb dish, a flavorful soup for vegetarians or really great for everybody who wants to start in the new year on a lighter note.