Carrot and Red Lentil Soup

034We get amazing carrots from the farm in our weekly (summer) and bi-weekly (winter) CSA. I love that we often get carrots of other colors – purple, yellow, pale orange and deep orange. I love that some are long and thin while others are short and “stocky.” They never quite look like the super long, super thick carrots of the grocery store, but they are usually much better flavor raw and cooked. Certainly fresher.

I’ve been thinking about this soup recipe since carrots started showing up in our share in late summer and into fall. Because it really is only a few ingredients and features carrots, they have to be good and plentiful. Most of the time, we’d either just have a handful of carrots or I had something else in mind that came up and used what I had on hand.

A couple of weeks ago we got quite a few carrots and I might have even got more in the “swap” box, though to be honest I infrequently swap and instead just take the things other people leave behind. Last week we got more carrots so I knew I was finally destined to make my soup. It takes about 1.5 to 2 cups of chopped carrots, so you want them to be abundant and tasty. Other than that, you need an onion, red lentils, some tomato paste, cumin, broth or water, salt and pepper. Simple and delicious.

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Since it was Sunday, I decided to use my food processor to make quick work of chopping the carrots leaving them a bit chunky with some large-ish bits. Onion is better, I think, if chopped by hand.

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In a large pot, you put in the chopped onion and the chopped carrots. This time around, I had about 2 cups. My onion was large, so I’d guess it was about a cup or so. I added 2 tablespoons of olive oil and set the mixture to sautéing with just a little salt to get the veggies to release some liquid. The mixture cooks about 5-7 minutes.

015I make a little space in the middle and add in the spices to “brown” in the fat and veggie mixture.

  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 t cumin – less if you don’t like it as much, but I love it

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By the way, if you haven’t discovered tomato paste in a tube, get on board.  It’s so easy and convenient and there’s much less waste than buying cans when you really only need a bit.  I’ve been known to freeze tomato paste and keeping it the freezer, but this is even easier and faster.

First I let the tomato paste and cumin heat in the middle for a minute and then I mix it into the cooked veggie mixture. It helps to cook the tomato paste and spices a bit to bloom and deepen their flavor.  You do have to be careful because the paste and cumin will soak up any available liquid so the mixture will get a bit dry as it’s cooking.  Be careful not to walk away or it’ll scorch.

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Before it burns, add:

  • 6 cups liquid – could be broth, could be water (today I did water and just a bit of chicken bouillon, but normally I do a ‘box’ of broth stock which is 4 cups and 2 cups of water — I was out of box stock)
  • ¾ c red lentils
  • 3 T uncooked brown rice
  • ½ t salt
  • ¼ t pepper

The mixture then cooks for about 25 to 30 minutes or until the rice and lentils are tender and the liquid reduces a bit.

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That’s it. It’s the simplest recipe for one of the tastiest soups I know. Lentils are good for you and delicious and the brown rice adds some body and heartiness to the soup. The carrot flavor is enhanced by the cumin and its carrot freshness comes through in the finished product.

Sunday soup is served!025

It also holds up and reheats very well for leftovers (= not sad desk lunch) the next day or day after that.

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