Creamy Red Lentil Soup with Cheesy Pita Croutons

Red Lentil Soup with Cheesy Pita Croutons from Big Girls, Small Kitchen

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I rode across the Manhattan Bridge 4 times on Saturday. I have always constrained my biking to Brooklyn, its less-trafficked bike lanes and provincial Prospect Park loop, in Manhattan, I ‘d typically rather be a straphanger or a pedestrian-but 4 years into riding here, I am completely obsessed with my bike to the point where I can face my worries of huge city trucks and taxis and bike website traffic. Likewise, my two Saturday goals were on the Lower East Side, a short sprint from where the Manhattan Bridge spits us two-wheelers out on Canal.

I am now assured that riding across the Manhattan Bridge counts as an ultimate New York City experience as much as the walk throughout the the far more touristy (and prettier) Brooklyn Bridge. If you have ever sat on the Q train at sundown, you’ll understand about the view. Cycling brings an additional sensation of floatiness to ‘one of the greatest cheap visual feasts in America,’ in addition to the thigh burn that results from the sluggish climb, which makes you feel as though you’ve actually made the view, then Manhattan.

On Sunday, after all that exertion, I was hungry, even after brunch. I have heard this happens, that when you exercise a ton you yearn for healthful meals, instead of any old junky calories, and really nourishing food did come out of my kitchen area this weekend.

My Middle Eastern flavor journey fit in perfectly with these yearnings. The food of Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, and Iran consists of splendor from olive oil and nuts and rib-sticking bulk through healthy lentils. I have already pointed out red lentils in my post about Smoky Red Lentil Burgers, and last evening, we’d Claudia Roden’s Creamy Red Lentil Soup, no area that it’s August. (Fall is coming.) The creaminess derives from the silky sautéed onions and the red lentils, which are prepared about half an hour past the point when you might technically eat them, till they have broken and disintegrated and started to act as though they have been treated with an immersion blender or food processor. The non-necessity of the blender makes this unbelievably simple to make.

The pita croutons are my cheesy addition. They deliver the cheesy crunch that even the best-ever soups tend to require.


Creamy Red Lentil Soup with Cheesy Pita Croutons

Adapted from Claudia Roden
Serves 6

This soup is even much better the day after it’s made. Thin it with extra water if it thickens over night. Claudia Roden’s version has you caramelize an onion in a few tbsps of oil while the soup cooks, and if you feel like utilizing an additional pan, I highly suggest this addition. Scoop some onions on top of the soup when you garnish with the croutons.


For the soup:
3 tbsps olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 tsps ground cumin
1 1/2 tsps ground coriander
pinch red pepper flakes
1 3/4 cups red lentils
1 carrot, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon

For the cheesy croutons:
2 pita breads (white or whole wheat), divided open
2 / 3 cup shredded cheese (I used a mix of Pecorino Romano and Sargento Shredded Mozzarella)
About 1 tbsp za’atar (make your very own below)

Heat the oil in a heavy stockpot over average heat till soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, and red pepper flakes and stir. Include the lentils and the carrot, then stir. Add 2 quarts (8 cups) of water. This will appear like a lot! Offering a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook discovered till the lentils have degenerated and the soup has a creamy structure, about 45 minutes. Include 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, fresh pepper, and the juice of half the lemon. Taste, then add even more salt if needed.

Meanwhile, turn on your broiler. Make the cheesy croutons: Split the pitas in half. Brush a flat pan with olive oil. Drizzle each pita half with olive oil and spray with za’atar. Broil till toasty, about 2 minutes. Get rid of from the oven, then disperse the grated cheese among the pitas and bake for 3 even more minutes, viewing very carefully, until the cheese is melted and the pitas are crisp. Remove from the oven and cut into unequal wedges.

Serve the soup really hot, with lemon wedges and croutons.

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