Spicy Indian Lentil Soup

For our family Easter dinner this year I cooked a big ham. I have been really excited about the possibility of cooking lamb for weeks. It's been a while since I've eaten lamb and Easter has always been a great time to indulge on a whole leg of lamb roast. But after going back and forth we all decided ham would work better for our Easter meal.

Well, I quickly got over the disappointment of a lamb-less Easter once I realized that, "hey, we're going to have a big ol' ham-bone left over"! That can only mean one thing for me: soup's on! You can laugh at me, but I really do get excited about this stuff! So now I just had to decide what kind of soup to make with the ham bone. After going back between cannellini bean soup, pasta fazoli, and cuban black bean soup I finally decided on lentil soup. Now some of you may be thinking "what's so exciting about lentil soup?". Well after just eating a bowl, I'm here to tell you, forget the lamb, forget the cannellini, this soup is the bomb!
Maybe it's that I haven't tasted the rich aromatic and savory flavors of Indian food in some time, but my taste buds had a wakeup call tonight and I remember what I love about food. I love food that makes you stand up and take notice. A good meal is "eventful" and leaves you buzzing about it after it's done. This soup did just that for me and the best thing is that it took me off guard.
Now I've got to warn you, this soup is not for everyone, it's got a lot of strong flavors from the ginger, gram marsala, cardamom, and it's on the spicy side, but hey, your mouth deserves a wake up call today!

Spicy Indian Lentil Soup
Serves 6-8

2 Tbsp vegatable oil
1 medium onion- chopped
3 cloves garlic- minced
2" piece of ginger root, peeled and minced
2 hot peppers(anaheim, jalepeno, etc..), seeded and chopped
sea salt and crushed black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Garam Masala (note: you can make this spice mixture, or buy it pre-mixed, but the fresher the better)
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp cumin
1 bayleaf
1-15 oz can of diced tomatoes
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup frozen spinach- thawed
1 lb. dried lentils (dahl-red lentils or mung dahl-yellow lentils preferred) -washed and picked over
1 Tbsp sugar
8 cups filtered water
1 hambone with(or without) meat

plain yogurt (optional)
mint leaves (optional)

Heat a large pot to medium high with the vegatable oil
Saute the onions for about a minute, until translucent
Stir in the garlic, ginger and hot peppers, sprinkle with salt and pepper
Next mix in the garam masala, cardamom, cumin, and bay leaf
Add the tomatoes, carrots, and spinach and sugar, and lentils, and the hambone stir together well, cook for about 5 minutes
Stir in the water and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally
Once it comes to a boil reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 1 hour, loosely covered, stirring occasionally
Discard the bay leaf and hambone- If your ham bone has meat on it, cut the meat off into bitesized pieces and return the pieces to the pot.
Serve in a bowl with a dollop of plain yogurt and garnish with fresh mint leaves, or parsley (optional), Enjoy, (mandatory :-)


whimsigal said...

Hey! I cooked a ham and was excited about the hambone, too! I usually make split pea soup but was just talking about finding a way to make a lentil soup. This one sounds delicious!

Mike Eberhart said...

That sounds (and looks) absolutely fantastic. I'm not very experienced with home-cooking of Indian food, but it sure seems doable with your recipe and all. Nice post.

Kita H. said...

Hey there! Just wanted to let you know I checked out your recipe and modified it for myself (mainly to avoid meat) and linked your original recipe on my website: http://www.onesmallripple.com/2014/01/spicy-lentil-stew-recipe-reasons-for.html Cheers and thank you!

Jeff SanGeorge said...

Thanks Kita H. , that is actually perfect because I've stopped eating meat since I published this. I took a look at your recipe and it looks great!