Indian Spiced Red Lentil Soup

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2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped, about 2 cups
pinch salt
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 cup red lentils, picked through for stones and rinsed
4 cups water, vegetable or chicken stock or a combination
½ teaspoon salt or to taste.
Optional toppings: Sirracha, Toasted cumin seeds

Make the soup:
       In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat the oil and add the chopped onions and a pinch of salt. Cook until translucent. Add the cumin and red pepper flakes and cook till fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the red lentils, ginger and the water and/or stock. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
        Turn down to a simmer and cover. Cook for 25-30 minutes stirring occasionally until the lentils are very soft. Check often at the end of the cooking time to prevent sticking. If the soup has gotten too thick add more water or stock. Add the salt, taste for seasoning and add more salt if you like.
        It’s delicious a little chunky, but you can also puree it in a blender to make it creamy. Serve with Sirracha and toasted cumin seeds, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.     YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. This really does cook up fast and could burn. So pay attention towards the end of the cooking time to stir and add more liquid if needed.
2. It’s easy to toast the cumin seeds. I rinse about 1 Tablespoon of them in a fine mesh strainer and dump them into a small dry skillet. Over medium heat, let them toast, stirring the entire time. And when they smell fragrant after about 2-3 minutes, immediately remove from the pan to a dish so they don’t turn bitter.
3. You can easily double this recipe and freeze some.