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Weekend Recipe: Red Lentil Soup with North African Spices

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Photo courtesy of Cook's Illustrated
Photo courtesy of America's Test Kitchen

El Niño requires a few things on the winter checklist. Raincoat? Check. Waterproof shoes? Check. Spicy, comforting soup? Check -- courtesy of this Cook's Illustrated recipe! For additional heat and spice, serve the soup with harissa, the North African chili sauce.

Red Lentil Soup with North African Spices
Serves 4 to 6

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 10 ½ ounces (1 ½ cups) red lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried mint, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add coriander, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in broth, water, and lentils and bring to simmer. Simmer vigorously, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft and about half are broken down, about 15 minutes.

Whisk soup vigorously until it is coarsely pureed, about 30 seconds. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and extra lemon juice to taste. Cover and keep warm. (Soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Thin soup with water, if desired, when reheating.)

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in small skillet. Remove from heat and stir in mint and paprika. Ladle soup into individual bowls, drizzle each portion with 1 teaspoon spiced butter, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve.

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