Recipe: Red Lentil Soup

Recipe: Red Lentil Soup

Red Lentil Soup ~ the classic Sufi soup

Healing Food
This red lentil soup recipe from the Simple Sufi Cooking cookbook, was refined at Dancemeditation retreats where food is an integral part of healing and study. Preparing food is a way to understand spiritual development. Our meditation practices of movement, breathing, and chant in deeply concentrated states remove the layers covering Essence Self. Likewise, simply prepared food can reveal its invigorating natural self.

Simple Food
Because our bodies are stressed from environmental pollution, emotional pressures, and poor personal choices, detoxification for rejuvenation is essential. Cleansing depends on simplicity. The simpler the food, the easier it is for our bodies to expel toxins. Preparing and eating simple food gives us an opportunity to see principles of self-relation, relation to our community, to our natural world, and to the Subtle.

Learn to Hear the Food
Simplicity is also a principle of action and attitude. An overly fussy cook can be compared to a person who micromanages others, ignoring who they are. Learn to ‘hear’ the food – not how it sizzles or bubbles, though that is important – but how its nature speaks to intuition. If we listen, food can ‘talk’ to us about itself . 

How to Make Red Lentil Soup ~ Stovetop Slow Method

Ingredients

  • Red lentils
  • Water
  • Sea salt


Measurement
About 4 to one, water to beans.
About 1/3 cup dry beans per person. (For slow cook method, make a larger batch and refrigerate or freeze the extra for later.)

Time: all day

Step 1: Washing the Lentils
Wash the lentils by swirling them around in water and straining them with a strainer. Do this until the rinse water runs clear — anywhere between six to thirteen times. This is half the work of this soup as well as the secret to its delicious flavor.

Step 2: The Initial Cooking
Use a heavy-bottomed pot! Put in lentils and water (but not the salt.) Bring the pot to a boil. If there is foam coming off the lentils (from starch which will sully the flavor), scrape it off with a wooden spoon. Keep the lentils at a good roll, stirring every 5 minutes to keep the beans from sticking and burning.  As the soup cooks keep the water level close to the surface of the beans. After about a half hour the beans will begin to break down. During this part of the cooking the beans mound up and look vesuvial. You may want to begin lowering the heat from high to medium.

Step 3: Obtaining the Proper Texture
Before long the soup will begin to smooth out. This takes variable amounts of time. Add water, striving to have the soup reach a velvety fluid texture, not too dense and not too watery. Keep the boil at a slow roll — movement but not bubbling. It is very important to stir frequently as the soup can easily stick and burn during this time.

Step 4: The Long Cooking
Once the beans have completely broken down and the soup texture is smooth, put a flame tamer under the pot and turn the heat to low. Cook for four to six hours. This develops a rich, sweet but nutty flavor in the beans. At this point the soup will be bland but satisfying.

Step 5: Salting the Soup
A half hour before serving, salt the soup “to the edge”. This means salt it almost more than is comfortable to taste. You may also need to add a little water at this point. Let the salt cook in for at least thirty more minutes. The soup’s flavor will suddenly become magical. Important Salting stops the starch inside the beans breaking from down, so don’t add salt until the beans are fully cooked (four to six hours).

How to Make Red Lentil Soup ~ Pressure Cooker

Pressure cooking is much faster. Total cooking time is about 45′ from coming up to pressure, cooking at pressure, and coming down from pressure. Using a quick release method to de-pressurize will speed the process as well. Cooking time is the same whether you use a stovetop pressure cooker or an electric ‘Instant Pot’ pressure cooker. In addition, you also need 30′ after the pressure cooking for the salt to set in.

Ingredients

  • Red lentils
  • Water
  • Sea salt


Measurement
Sea Level: about 3 to one, water to beans.
High Altitude: about 3 1/2 to one, water to beans.
About 1/3 cup dry beans per person.

Step 1: Washing the Lentils
Wash the lentils by swirling them around in water and straining them with a strainer. Do this until the rinse water runs clear — anywhere between six to thirteen times. This is half the work of this soup as well as the secret to its delicious flavor.

Step 2: Cooking in a Pressure Cooker
Put in lentils and water  in the cooker. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to keep the soup from foaming up into the pressure valve. (Don’t add the salt.) Close and lock the cooker.
Manual pressure cooker: Bring up pressure to a low setting and cook for 14′ at sea level. (18′ at high altitude.)
‘Instant Pot’: Use Low Pressure and set the timer for 14′ at sea level. (18′ at high altitude.)

Step 3: Coming Down from Pressure
Either by natural release method or quick release method, let the soup come down from pressure. Open the lid. The lentils will be cooked but retain some form. With a large spoon, stir or mash them against the side of the pot until the soup is smooth. If they are full cooked, the lentils should break down easily. Then go right away to the salting.

Step 4: Salting the Soup
Salt the soup “to the edge”. This means salt it almost more than is comfortable to taste. If using the ‘Instant Pot’, after salting return the lid and leave on ‘Keep Warm’ setting as the salt settles in. With a manual pressure cooker, keeping the stove off, salt the soup and return the lid to keep the soup warm as the salt settles in. The soup’s flavor will suddenly become magical.
Important Salting stops the starch inside the beans breaking from down, so don’t add salt until the beans are fully cooked.

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Stacie Booker
25 days ago

thank you! this is one of my favorites!

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