Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lentil Soup with Ground Turkey and Indian Spices

Almost every soup I make is improvised. Either that, or I follow a recipe I wrote up for a soup that I improvised. This particular healthy, hearty soup combines a lot of things I had on hand with flavors I love. It combines brown and red lentils, the latter of which almost completely break down into the soup during cooking. I used a ton of Indian spices for flavor, then threw in the very Mediterranean addition of sundried tomatoes.

The nice thing is that I improvised it, and you can too! Any spices, any protein, different veggies. It's all on the table!

Lentil Soup with Ground Turkey and Indian Spices
Sambar powder is a spice blend specifically made for sambar, an Indian lentil soup. It's sold in Indian markets. Curry powder is a great replacement.

Serves 6 to 8

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
red chile flakes or chile seasoning to taste
2 tbsp sambar powder or curry powder or other Indian spice blend
6 to 8 cups liquid (I generally use half chicken broth, half water)
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
1 cup brown lentils
1/2 cup red lentils
1 pound ground turkey breast (or other protein)
6 to 8 oz spinach leaves
1/2 cup chopped sundried tomatoes (approximate)
Juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Add onion, season with salt and pepper and cook until lightly browned. Add garlic, fennel, chile flakes and sambar or curry powder and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until garlic is tender. Add 7 cups of liquid and bring to a boil.

Add carrots, cover and simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add lentils and continue cooking until tender, about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the turkey in a skillet on medium high, crumbling with your spoon, until cooked through. Season to taste with salt, pepper and chile powder, cumin, onion powder, or any spices you like.

Add spinach to soup and simmer until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. If soup is too thick, add additional liquid as desired. Add turkey, sundried tomatoes and lemon juice. Stir until heated through. Taste and season as needed.