Since we are in the time of year where soups and stews are welcome, especially for dinner, I thought of another rich and creamy soup we love to make: traditional Dahl (or dal) lentil soup with its delicate coral lentils. I have prepared it in less than 30 minutes so this recipe is ea-sy! If you are in the mood for nice warming light Indian soup this is the one! It goes perfectly with flatbread like naan (plain or onion) and some white or brown rice.
The many types of lentils
The great thing about lentils is that there are quite a few to chose from. They vary in texture, color, and nutritional content (although all are protein-rich). They do not require soaking which makes them even easier to use.
Dal belongs to the family of pulses which also includes beans, lentils, and peas. When lentils are split they become dal. So, if mung beans are split, the dish that is made with them is called mung-dal.
Masoor dal are the bright red or coral lentils. They are one of the most popular types.
Mong dal are the easiest beans to sprout and make a great addition to salads.
Urad Dal is a black lentil but when the lentils are split they turn creamy beige.
Toor dal is yellow lentils not to be confused with Matar dal which is yellow split peas that do not need to be soaked.
Chana Dal is a split chickpea.
Matar Dal is yellow split peas.
Don’t worry if you can’t memorize their Indian names, what matters is that you experiment and incorporate them in soups, stews and get all the goodness they deliver!
How to prepare lentils
Split lentils cook quickly and tend to break down making them a perfect addition to soups. If you are on a budget, you will appreciate how inexpensive they are, so make sure to stock up on them.
Another great thing about lentils is that you do not need to soak them like beans so you can prepare them quickly. You do need to rinse them to get rid of dust or debris.
Split peas and lentils create creaminess in curries, stews, and soups because they quickly break down. This is a great way to load up on healthy proteins and create texture without adding fat and calories! You can make thick or thin depending on your preference. Just add more water. Also, you don’t need to use Indian spices, you can cook lentils Mexican style with some cumin and chipotle, or French with some white creamy sauce, you get the idea.
Coral lentils are high in potassium, iron, fiber, and vitamin B1.
Black lentils are very nutritious, help digestion and reduce cholesterol and only require 20 minutes to cook.
Matar Dal is rich in manganese, copper, folate, Vitamin B1 and B5
1/2 cup of lentils delivers 26 g of protein! Not bad for a little pulse.
1/4 cup of dried green lentils packs a whopping 19 g of soluble fiber!
All lentils are great for weight loss and diabetics because of their ability to help to stabilize blood sugar levels!
Need I say more?
So without further ado…
Easy Dahl Lentil Soup
- frying pan
- Sauce pan
- 1/2 cup red/coral lentils
- 1/3 cup yellow lentils
- 4-5 cups water or broth
- 1/2 medium chopped onion
- 3-4 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tomato or cup of tomato sauce
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/2-1 tsp chili paste or powder
- 2 tsp oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tbsp black sesame seeds
Prepare the lentils
- Quickly rinse the lentils and drain.
- Cover the lentils with water and simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender.
Prepare the seasonings
- In a frying pan, heat up oil on medium heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds, then the cumin seeds and stir.
- As soon as they begin to pop they will get fragrant and add the chopped onion and garlic making sure to coat them well until they become translucent.
- Add the coriander powder, salt, turmeric and chili and the tomato or tomato sauce and the cooked lentils. Stir and simmer for a few minutes.
- Top with chopped cilantro and black sesame seeds. Serve with white rice or flatbread.