My guess is that there’s only so much excitement I can drum up about a lentil soup. Inherently, it’s just not going to send you running to the kitchen with nothing on your mind besides, “I have to cook this now,” like a picture of a dripping burger might, or a seared, crusty steak. But I’m going to try anyway, because even though lentils have a reputation as sort of drab, this is one of the best recipes for them I’ve ever made. It comes from Bon Appetit‘s Cooking Life column, courtesy of Molly Wizenberg, who is behind the blog Orangette.
What makes it so good? The secret is in the assertive curry spices and the addition of chickpeas, bringing both spice and creaminess in droves. Though you wouldn’t guess chickpeas are in the soup, they’re the reason it’s so creamy since they’re stirred in after being puréed with lemon, garlic, and olive oil. The deeply aromatic curry powder is also essential, elevating the humble lentil into something that grabs your attention.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, chopped, divided
- 2 tablespoons curry powder, or more to taste
- 1 cup French green lentils
- 4 cups water
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
In a large heavy pot, heat half the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and carrot, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook until onion is translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes, then stir in curry powder. Cook, stirring constantly to prevent spices from burning, until spices are fragrant.
Add lentils and water and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
In the meantime, puree chickpeas, lemon juice, remaining olive oil, and 1/4 cup of water. Stir puree into lentils, along with butter. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and/or additional curry powder, then thin soup with water until desired consistency.
Divide amongst soup bowls and serve garnished with green onion and with lemons on the side.