Break the monotony with the unexpected! Moroccan lentil soup is hearty enough to be a satisfying dinner. It’s one of those, “Hey, look at me! I ate vegetarian and didn’t even realize it” moments.
How does this soup begin? Why with the Magic of Mirepoix of course! Once the mirepoix is sweat in a bit of olive oil, add some fragrant Moroccan-y spices. I choose freshly ground cumin seed and whole cinnamon sticks, ’cause they’re sexy. Well, that and you always want to use the whole spice when you can (freshly toasted and ground where applicable.) Ground spices, purchased from the store, lose their luster way too fast. (For a great analogy, think of coffee. Are you buying Folgers for your cup? Prolly not! I bet you’re a snob when it comes to freshly toasted and ground coffee beans, so look at your spices in the same way.)
If you think the spices make the room smell great, wait until you add the wine! Add some canned tomatoes for even more acidity: this makes the perfect little bath for the lentils. Those lucky lentils! The first thing they’ll absorb as they cook is the wonderful aromatics from the mirepoix and the acid from the wine and tomato. Add a little salt at this stage, too.
Add water as the lentils cook — they will absorb a lot of liquid. A little liquid at a time. Yum! The addition of chopped prunes gives this soup it’s sweetness and balance. It is Moroccan lentil soup, after all: it needs the spices, and the acid and the sweet. They all work together in glorious harmony.
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery sticks, diced
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, freshly toasted and ground
7 ounces canned chopped tomatoes
1 cup red wine
1 cup lentil
8 pitted prunes pitted, diced
garnish: a handful of chopped fresh parsley
Heat some olive oil in a nice soup pot and sweat the mirepoix until softened (about 10 minutes). Add the spices and cook for another minute. Pour in the wine and let that reduce. Add the tomatoes and then the lentils. Bring to a boil and then simmer.
In about 20 minutes, the lentils will be cooked and your house will smell delicious. Add the prunes and cook for another 10 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and serve with a liberal sprinkle of chopped parsley.