Monday, February 18, 2013

Moroccan Lentil Soup

As I’ve mentioned before, soups are one of my favorite things to make when it’s cold outside. Apart from being hot and delicious, they’re hard to mess up and generally only involve a couple of dirty dishes. Plus they make a large number of servings that can be stored in the fridge for easy dinners or brown bag lunches. Also, soup is one of the easiest dishes to make both super healthy and tasty. I only wish I loved cold soups as much as I love hot ones, that way I could get my fix all year round. But alas, a big bowl of gazpacho just doesn’t do the trick. 

Lentil soup is a wonderful vegetarian-friendly meal, perfect for warming up on a cold winter day. There are several common varieties, each of which has its own distinct flavor profile. French lentil soup, made with green or brown lentils, has a mild earthy taste. Middle Eastern lentil soup, generally made with red lentils, is brightened up with a touch of lemon juice before serving. Last but not least, Indian lentil soup is commonly made with red lentils and features an aromatic blend of spices. My rendition of Moroccan lentil soup is a hybrid of the latter two: it is finished off with lemon juice like most Middle Eastern variations, but contains garam marsala, an Indian spice blend.

This soup ranks among my top 5 favorites, which is saying something given my intense obsession with the stuff. Other favorites include an amazing sweet potato and black bean chili from BGSK, a turkey & white bean soup of my own creation, as well as black bean soup and chicken corn chowder (recipes welcome!).

Served with crusty bread, this soup is hearty enough for a solid lunch or a light dinner. I've been eating it alongside some bread and a salad for dinner pretty frequently since starting my new job. I'm still trying to get in the hang of the 9 to 5 routine again, so it's nice to have a dinner that I can just throw in the microwave. It would also be great as a side with some meat, I would recommend chicken.

Bon appetit!

Moroccan Lentil Soup
Serves 4
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp garam marsala
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 c red lentils
1 tbsp tomato paste
Harissa to taste (optional)
4 c chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro leaves, plus extra for garnish
1 tbsp lemon juice

Heat large Dutch oven over medium, then add olive oil and heat for a minute or two, until shimmering. Saute onion and carrot, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes.

Some of the ingredients, prepped and ready to go

Add garlic, cumin, ground ginger, garam marsala, and salt and continue to sauté until very fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add lentils, tomato paste, stock, and harissa to taste. Bring to a simmer, then cook, partially covered until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in cilantro and lemon juice. Taste for seasoning.

Spoon soup into bowls, and garnish with more fresh cilantro. Serve with crusty bread. 

Source: adapted from BGSK


  1. Queso,

    If you don't have a dutch oven, can you use a regular pot or a crock pot?

    1. I don't have a crock pot, so I'm not totally sure about that one. But any medium or large-sized pot with a lid should work.

  2. Would using regular green lentils change the flavor? It sounds good, but I don't have red lentils....

    1. Judy, apologies for the delayed response, but the answer is yes. If all you have on hand is green lentils, I wouldn't recommend this recipe. Try searching for a french style lentil soup recipe. This type of soup is also great and is made with green lentils.