This humble French Lentil Soup with Cilantro gets its rich flavor from deeply browned onions.
French Lentil Soup with Cilantro
- 13 cups water
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black peppercorns
- 1 large red onion quartered and sliced
- 2 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 cups green French lentils
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 cup whole wheat Israeli couscous or brown rice
- chopped fresh cilantro for serving
- fresh lemon wedges for serving
Place 1 cup of water next to the stovetop. Heat the oil with the cumin in a large soup pot over medium heat until cumin is browned, about 2 minutes. Add chili flakes and ground peppercorns, and cook for 30 seconds. Add the onion and salt, and cook until onion is deep browned and crispy, 15-20 minutes, adjusting the heat to medium-low as needed to prevent from burning. Stir often and splash with water, scraping browned bits from the bottom of the pot when the onions begin to stick.
Add 2 cups of water along with the lentils and the turmeric to the pot and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 10 more cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Stir in the couscous and return the soup to a boil. Cook, partially covered, until the couscous is al dente. Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let the lentil soup stand for 30 minute to 2 hours to thicken.
Before serving, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve sprinkled with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lemon juice.
adapted from Suvir Saran's American Masala cookbook