Small red lentils are one of our favorite legumes; they do not hold their shape when cooked but break down into a creamy, thick puree -- perfect for a hearty, satisfying soup.

Lentils have a short cooking time and don't require soaking before cooking. To speed things up even further, we precooked the lentils in the microwave while we assembled the soup base. Do not substitute brown lentils, which have a very different texture.

Sauteing the curry powder with garlic and the ginger before adding the lentils and the broth was key, as it intensified and deepened their flavors. Chopped fresh tomato added some complexity.

 

CURRIED RED LENTIL SOUP

1 cup red lentils, picked over and rinsed

4 cups vegetable broth

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 onion, chopped fine

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 large tomato, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch pieces

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

1/2 cup plain yogurt

 

Microwave lentils and 2 cups broth in bowl until lentils are nearly tender and most liquid is absorbed, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, ginger, and curry powder and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in microwaved lentil mixture, tomato, and remaining 2 cups broth and simmer until lentils are very tender and flavors meld, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle individual portions with cilantro and dollop with yogurt before serving.

Makes four servings.