I'm on a lentil kick, since I bought a ton online, and now I have to deal with all of them!
There's a restaurant in Bellevue called Mediterranean Kitchen which has the yummiest food in ginormous portions. They always start you with a soup, pita and hummus, and for years they had a spicy lentil soup that was to die for. I've tried looking online, but haven't found one that was remotely close. However, there is one in America's Test Kitchen New Best Recipe that I think is spot on.
Hearty Lentil Soup with Fragrant Spices
3 slices (about 3 ounces) bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped fine
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped medium
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes*
1 bay leaf
1 tsp minces fresh thyme leaves
1 cup (7 oz) lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 tsp salt
Ground Black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
4-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1-1/2 cups water
1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro
1. Fry the bacon in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, 3-4 min. Add the onion and carrots; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 2 min. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, bay leaf and thyme; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the lentils, salt, and pepper to taste; cover, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook until the vegetables are softened and the lentils have darkened, 8-10 min.
2. Uncover, increase the heat to high, add the wine, and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken broth and water; bring to a boil, cover partially, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape, 30 to 35 minutes; discard the bay leaf.
3. Use a stick blender to blend soup to your preferred consistency **. Stir in lemon juice and 2 Tbsp cilantro and serve, garnishing with remaining cilantro.
* The original instructions have drained tomatoes, but I didn't bother draining them, and I don't think they need to.
** If you don't have a nifty stick blender, puree 3 cups of soup in a blender until smooth, add it back to the soup, add the lemon juice and heat on med-low for another 5 minutes before adding the cilantro.
Thankfully, I was planning ahead and pulled some carrots for this out of the garden before all the snow and deep-freeze temperatures hit.
Now, if I can just figure out their recipe for lamb swarma....