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Old 29-12-2004, 04:17 AM
Gladys Dinletir
 
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Default Lentil and Sweet Red Pepper Soup with Cumin and Black Pepper

Lentil and Sweet Red Pepper Soup with Cumin and Black Pepper

Gourmet

I use a small, plump, shrewdly marketed black lentil dubbed "beluga" for
this soup, but you can use dark green French lentils or flat olive-green
ones, or you can try other pulses such as split peas green, orange, or
gold. Just be prepared to adjust the amount of stock or water. Whole
cumin and black peppercorns, crushed just before you add them to the
soup, flavor it boldly. I have served this soup three different ways
straight from the pot, irregularly mashed in a mortar, and fully puréed
in a blender or processor. Each method produces a different texture and
character, and I like all three.
Active time: 20 min Start to finish: 40 min

1 cup lentils (preferably small)
1 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprig, finely chopped (including stem)
1 Turkish bay leaf or 1/2 California bay leaf
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
24 whole black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely diced carrot
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, chopped

Simmer lentils with parsley, bay leaf, broth, and water in a 4-quart
saucepan, uncovered, until tender, 30 to 40 minutes.

While lentils are cooking, coarsely grind peppercorns with cumin using a
mortar and pestle or an electric coffee/spice grinder. Heat 1 tablespoon
oil in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until hot but not
smoking, then cook bell pepper, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes.
Add spices and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add carrot, celery, onion,
garlic, and remaining 3 tablespoons oil and cook, stirring, until carrot
is tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in lentil mixture and discard bay leaf.


Puree 1 cup soup in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending
hot liquids). Stir purée into remaining soup and reheat over moderate
heat, stirring. Season soup with salt and pepper. If soup seems too
thick, thin with water to desired consistency.

Cooks' note:
Soup can be made 1 day ahead and cooled, uncovered, then chilled,
covered.

Makes about 5 cups.


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