This soup was inspired by my mother-in-law. She served a beautiful and delicious-looking red lentil soup the last time I visited. I say delicious-looking because it tasted kind of like water. No, really. I felt sorry for her because everyone but me was giving her critiques on how she should have done it better, but it's the thought that counts, right?
Anyway, I decided to make a soup that tasted like hers looked like it should have tasted -- a red lentil soup that is both beautiful and delicious.
Gently fry 1/2 of a big or one small chopped onion and one shredded carrot with a glug of olive oil in a small pot or saucepan, until onion becomes clear and everything starts getting a little carrot-coloured. Add a chopped stalk of celery and stir for another minute or two. Dump in a pile of red lentils about the size of your fist (more, if your fists are tiny, like mine, less if you have those crazy bear-paw hands), add the juice + 1 slice of 1/2 lemon, 1 tsp herb blend (Italian or Herbs de Province will do), 1/4 tsp tumeric (if I have too much tumeric, my armpits start smelling of it!), 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp curry powder (or 1 tsp of your favourite curry paste), and enough water to almost fill the pot. Stir, add 2 tbsp tomato paste, stir again, add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, stir once more, and let cook, stirring occasionally, until the red lentils have turned to mush (did I mention you should stir it? don't let the red lentils stick together). Rip up a few fresh basil leaves, stir them in, and serve.
Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 hungry people.
Kick it up a notch with some chili flakes or a dash of hot sauce!