Really this is a creamy curried soup, but made without cream.... Not entirely a soup, either, more a dal but not really a true dal as the lentils are small and green and French. An enigma in a bowl.
Winter is revisiting London and it's all a bit bleak and damp and not quite light during the still too short days. Spring has arrived in the garden - buds are bursting out all over, pale new leaves are shyly displaying themselves and the snowdrops and crocuses are looking a little bedraggled by their rainy welcome - but in the kitchen winter reigns still.
Veg being less than inspiring, most of it the last of the winter store, I'm turning often to pulses. I have a secret supply of an exquisite french lentil - lentilles verte du berry - which were the first to come under Label Rouge - a distinct sign of quality. The friend, who acquires these lovely little things on her visits home, assures me they are best when served as a base for sausages, preferably toulouse but definitely garlic in one form or another. I will try that for sure come spring, but this week they made for a lovely rich warming dish.
The man loves curried parsnip soup with something approaching an unbalanced passion so I was fairly sure a midweek offering of curried lentils would be welcome. What intrigued me when I found the recipe on Serious Eats was using a chickpea purée to thicken the lentils and make them, it turned out, intensely gorgeously dreamily creamy.
Curried Lentil Soup
Lentils, chickpeas, curry powder, water - a dish where the whole utterly transcends the sum of its parts. Serves 4 with a side of crusty bread
4 tablespoons olive oil,
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped, divided
2 tablespoons curry powder, or more to taste
1 cup French green lentils
4 cups water
400g can chickpeas, drained, rinsed or a large handful of dried ones, soaked and cooked
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 lemon, cut into wedges
In a large heavy pot, heat half the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, celery and carrot, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook until onion is translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes, then stir in curry powder. Cook, stirring constantly to prevent spices from burning, until spices are fragrant.
Add lentils and water and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
In the meantime, puree chickpeas, lemon juice, remaining olive oil, and 1/4 cup of water. Stir puree into lentils, along with butter. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and/or additional curry powder, then thin soup with water until desired consistency.
Divide amongst soup bowls and serve garnished with green onion and with lemons on the side.The man was delighted, so much so he suggested they should be packed into jars and sold in shops in the way the french do with all things good. Bonne idée, non?