Orange Lentil Soup: The Fat-Free Foodgasm
I love lentil soup. I love it with a passion. When I worked at a Turkish restaurant a while back, I fell HARD for a lentil soup with basil and red pepper. It was so flavorful and, amazingly, it was super healthy. I would eat it for breakfast when I showed up in the morning. I would eat it whenever I got hungry. I took leftover soup home in a big takeaway container. The big soup warmer smelled amazing and was like a magnet drawing me over. The soup was slightly watery in the morning and thick and hearty at night. I begged and begged for the recipe but never got it. I did however, pick up a couple important ingredients. That was enough for a base idea and from there, I added carrots, eliminated a few other things, and just tried to wing it. And good Lord. It is so good. The lentils break down to form a creamy base with chunks of sweet carrots and intense red pepper and basil flavors.
You can make this in a dutch oven OR you can go all cook-while-you’re-at-work-or-the-movies-or-shopping and do the WHOLE thing in a slow-cooker. Slow-cooker friendly!
And about the red pepper paste...This is an ingredient common to a lot of Middle Eastern cuisines. Like sour cherries, hazelnut spread, and halva (be still my heart), it’s an inherently Turkish ingredient that is found in the cuisines of the neighboring countries. And it has the power to transform a dish from ho-hum to incredibly flavorful. Look for red pepper paste at Turkish or other international markets. If you absolutely can’t find it or you just don’t feel like finding it, your soup will suffer, but you can replace with tomato paste and add a diced red pepper. But really. The red pepper paste rocks.
When you open the lid after that last 30 minutes, the smell and the awesome will hit you in the fact like Mike Tyson. Eat a (cooled) spoonful and you will be hooked. And then you’ll remember that it’s fat free. And then you’ll want to hug me.