Mike and I are big fans of curries and of Indian flavors in general, but despite having a bunch of the requisite spices in our pantry, we really haven’t cooked these types of dishes much at home. There was a strong possibility that I would have to work late Monday night, so when planning our meals for the week, I thought a soup would be a good option.
I had a bag of red lentils in the pantry, as well as some canned chickpeas, and they seemed like natural partners for the curry spices I wanted to use. I started building the soup by toasting and then grinding a tablespoon each of whole cardamom, mustard seeds, allspice, cumin and coriander. I melted two tablespoons of ghee in the Le Creuset and added half a chopped red onion and a bit of kosher salt. The toasted, ground spices went in next, along with a bay leaf and two teaspoons each of ground cinnamon, turmeric, fenugreek, paprika, and powdered piquin chile (you can, of course, substitute your favorite prepared curry powder for this mixture of spices).
I added a cup and a half of red lentils, six cups of my homemade chicken stock (you can substitute vegetable stock or water if you wish), plus about cup and a half of whole peeled tomatoes with their juices. I broke up the tomatoes a bit with my spoon, then covered the pot and let it come to a boil, then reduced the heat to a simmer and cooked it for 20 minutes or so, until the lentils were tender.
At this point, I turned off the heat, fished out the bay leaf, and pureed the soup with my immersion blender. I then turned the heat back on and added one can of drained and rinsed chickpeas and a handful of frozen chopped spinach. I let the soup cook for another 10 minutes, then served it with a dollop of Greek yogurt on top and some purchased naan bread which I had topped with chopped garlic and olive oil before heating briefly in the oven. The soup was a little spicy and a lot savory, really delicious and filling on a snowy night.