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Beyond Chicken Soup: An Easy Lentil Soup Supper

My husband has had a bad cold, and I thought about making him some nice chicken soup today. The problem was, though, that it's been too hot here--close to 90 degrees--to get excited about hot chicken soup, either making it or eating it. Besides, I didn't have any chicken thawed. Nonetheless, I decided my husband did need some soup, albeit not of the chicken variety. Instead I opted for a soup more suited to warmer climates--lentil with lots of spices. Ginger, coriander, tumeric, cinnamon, and cumin combine with red lentils to give the soup a deep flavor, and the aroma of the simmering soup will wake up any stuffed up noses. If you really want heat, you can add cayenne pepper to the spice mix (I don't). The soup is cheap, filling, and loaded with vitamins, protein, and fiber. Moreover, unlike all-day chicken soup, this lentil soup cooks up in about half an hour--making it perfect for a week night dinner. The soup is great served with a dollop of minty-yogurt and a scattering of cilantro on top. We like the soup with cheese toast (in lieu of a grilled cheese sandwich), but, if you want a more substantial meal, I suggest cooking up some brown rice and serving bowls of the rice with the soup ladled over top. A simple salad or just some sliced tomatoes and cucumbers would make great additions.

Warm-Spiced Red Lentil Soup

Warm-Spiced Red Lentil Soup -- Serves 4+

2-3 teaspoons of olive oil

1/2 a large onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper

3/4 teaspoon of ground ginger

3/4 teaspoon of ground coriander

3/4 teaspoon of ground tumeric

3/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon of ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon of garlic powder

Cayenne pepper to taste

1 tablespoon of tomato paste

1 1/2 cups of dried, split red lentils

6 cups of water

1 tablespoon of reduced sodium chicken "Better than Bullion"

1/2 teaspoon of salt, or to taste

1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Minty yogurt topping (optional)

1/2 cup of chopped cilantro (optional)

In a medium saucepan heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the onion. Let the onion cook about 5 minutes, stirring it frequently to prevent it from burning. Add the spices and stir them into the hot chopped onion for a minute or two. Add the lentils and stir them into the onion-spice mixture, letting them warm/toast for a few minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir it into the onion-spice-lentil mixture for a minute or two. Add the water and "Better than Bullion" and stir to combine everything. Bring the soup mixture to a boil, stirring it frequently. Reduce the heat to a simmer, partially cover the pot, and let the lentil soup simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring it periodically. Turn off the heat and mash the lentils with a potato masher or just use a whisk and whisk the soup (carefully, it's hot!) for a few minutes to break up the lentils and thicken the soup. Add the lemon juice. Serve the hot soup in bowls with dollops of minty yogurt sauce and some cilantro scattered over top. Or put rice in the bottom of bowls, ladle on some soup, and then top with the yogurt sauce and cilantro.

Minty Yogurt Topping

1/4 cup of plain, fat-free Greek yogurt

1 1/2 teaspoons of dried mint

2 teaspoons of lemon juice

Salt, if you must

Combine all the ingredients and let them sit in the refrigerator while the soup cooks. Dollop a little on top of each serving of soup and then top with the cilantro.

Red Lentil Soup Supper

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