Iris*, our indomitable hostess in Washington DC, introduced us to this satisfying lentil soup–adapted from a recipe by chef Joan Swensen of Swilly’s in Pullman, WA–perfect for warming the cockles on chilly winter nights. The copious amount of liquid slowly reduces in the long, gentle cooking–thickening the soup and concentrating the taste.
2 tblsps olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 stick of celery–chopped fine
1/2 medium green pepper–chopped fine
1 medium carrot–chopped fine
1 large fennel bulb–diced large
4 cloves of garlic–pulped in a mortar with a teaspoon of salt
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp curry powder
¾ tsp allspice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp cayenne pepper
450gms/1lb lentils–pale green flat or Puy (grey-green)
2 pints stock--(I use organic vegetable stock cubes)
4 pints water
1 tin [can] tomatoes (400gms/14oz)–drained and broken up
low/no fat yogurt–a dollop a bowl
fresh coriander or parsley–chopped
salt and pepper
- Heat the oil in a large casserole over a medium heat.
- Add the onions, celery, carrot, green pepper, fennel and garlic.
- Stir well and soften gently for 5 minutes.
- Add the cumin, curry powder, all spice, cinnamon and cayenne pepper.
- Cook for a minute, stirring in the spices.
- Stir in the lentils and tomatoes, then add the stock and water.
- Bring to the simmer and cook uncovered for 1 hour.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve with a dollop of yogurt and a pinch of chopped coriander or parsley in each bowl.
*Iris is President of the pioneering Dupont Circle Village in Washington D.C.
The Village is a nonprofit neighbourhood programme providing cultural, social and other services to seniors, with the goal of helping them maintain health and independence as they grow older, enabling them to remain in their homes.