This is another great recipe that I learned from my mom… although it’s almost more of a hack than a recipe. I’d forgotten all about it until I made a can of lentil soup a few soups and was just astonished at how salty it was. My homemade soups are way less salty. But lately, working full time and wrangling a toddler with the rest of my time has taken up a lot of my cooking energy. So when I need a quick weeknight dinner, this is one of my favourites.
This is another recipe that comes from my mom, and I thought she was a total genius for using sesame sticks as a soup topping. Apparently she got the idea from the vegetarian restaurant that she first tasted this soup at and it is brilliant! I found these everything sesame sticks the other day and knew they’d make this soup even tastier.
This soup is inspired by the delicious Indian lentil dish tarka dahl (or is it dhal? Googling it for clarification just made me more confused). The red lentils and turmeric in the curry powder give it such a beautiful yellow colour. And I made it very flavourful, but not spicy, just like the tarka dahl we used to get at Curry Original in Kingston.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to share the most amazing cooking tip I learned this week: did you know you can grate onions and it’s about a MILLION times easier than finely chopping them? It’s true! There are times that I want the soothing repetition of chopping onions as finely as I can, but tonight was not one of those times. I just wanted dinner as soon as I could get it. And bonus of grated onion: the small pieces cook much faster and are less noticeable in the final dish. Possibly the perfect way to sneak onions into a dish if you cook for onions haters?
I served it with these fake Red Lobster biscuits which are the perfect match for any soup. And just generally a good way to force Will to eat soup for dinner.
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 1/2 cups red lentils (other colours will also work but won’t be as prettily coloured!)
- 4 1/2 cups of water
- 1 1/2 tsp curry powder (I used a medium spicy one)
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
- to garnish: sesame sticks
Heat the butter and oil on the stove over medium low heat. Peel and grate (or finely chop, if that’s more your style) the onion. Add it to the pan and mince the garlic while the onion cooks. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes until everything begins to soften.
Add the lentils, the seasoning and 4 cups of water to the pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat and then turn the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are soft and begin to break down, about 20 minutes. When the lentils have softened you can blend with an immersion blender if you want a smoother consistency, but I left them as is.
Serve with lots and lots of sesame sticks on top (and more on the side).
This was one of those great weekday dinners that takes maybe 30 minutes to throw together. And a lot of that is cooking, so you can be doing other things. Like watching endless episodes of Parks and Rec, as I have been doing ever since we finally got Netflix. If only we had a TV in the kitchen so I could watch while I chopped vegetables.
Admittedly, the best part of this soup is the toppings. I went with avocado, cheddar cheese, crushed chips and lime. When my friend Melissa made this soup for me, she also served it with sour cream, but I have a bad habit of buying huge tubs of sour cream and using only a few tablespoons before it goes bad, so I decided to skip it this time.
Super Quick Tortilla Soup
- 1 white onion
- 3 medium carrots, diced
- 4 stalks of celery, diced (psst! If you’ve made yourself some vegetarian shepherds pie recently, you’ll probably have some leftover carrots and celery!)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeno, diced
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 4 cups vegetable broth (I used a bouillon cube out of laziness)
- 3 tomatoes, diced
- 1 can black beans
- salt and pepper to taste
- diced avocado
- grated cheddar cheese
- slightly crushed tortilla chips
- lime slices
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, celery and carrots and cook until the onions are translucent, stirring a few times. Add the garlic, jalapeno and the spices. Cook for a few more minutes, then add the broth, tomatoes and black beans.
Simmer for about 15 minutes over medium-low heat, until the flavours start to meld together and the carrots are soft (I like to taste it often to check the seasoning as well). Serve with a variety of toppings.