Healthy and Delicious
Red Lentil Soup with Saffron
After opening the tin of saffron that my friend Joanne brought back from Dubai to make the Roasted Carrot and Saffron Risotto, I needed to use it up fairly quickly before it lost its flavor. Fortunately for me, Eating Well magazine landed in my mail box with an interesting article on saffron, including several recipes. I asked Tom what he thought of Red Lentil Soup with Saffron for dinner, and after rolling his eyes at another “healthy” meal, he capitulated and went to the store for a bag of red lentils.
This recipe is not only healthy, but quick. It takes about 40 minutes from start to finish so I was able to get this on the table after work. The aromatic blend of turmeric, cumin and saffron together with the lentils, mirepoix and spinach made for a winning combination that I am sure we will make again and again. Garnish with a spoonful of yogurt and a sprinkle of refreshing chopped mint.I changed two things on this recipe; first, I added red pepper flakes because that is the way we like it. Second, I dropped in two Parmesan rinds to melt in the soup. Both of these are optional but I thought they were a great addition.
With one hand clutching a take-out menu just in case he didn’t like it, Tom reluctantly tried the soup. “This is a winner!” he exclaimed as the menu fluttered to the ground. Ok, it didn’t happen exactly like that but he liked it … a lot!
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow or brown onion, finely diced
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed saffron threads
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 ½ cups water
1-pound red lentils (2 cups), picked over and rinsed
1 – 5 oz. bag baby spinach
2 (2 x 3-inch) pieces of Italian Parmesan cheese rind
Fresh ground black pepper
Plain yogurt and chopped fresh mint for garnish
Heat the oil in a large heavy pot with lid or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until starting to soften, 7 to 10 minutes (do not brown). Stir in garlic, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, cumin, turmeric and saffron and cook for 1 minute, stirring entire time.
Add broth, water, lentils, spinach, Parmesan rinds, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the lentils are vegetables are tender 15 to 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Remove Parmesan rinds and garnish with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of mint.
Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Recipe very lightly adapted from Eating Well