A Pakistani customer gave me the best review of this soup I could ever hope for: “This is the closest thing to home cooking I’ve had in the states.” He bought this soup whenever he saw it.  The difference between this and other curried soups is the lack of curry powder, just a warm blend of cumin, coriander and turmeric, with a bit of heat. I use these proportions for curried rice too, I like to control the blend of spices and not rely on a packaged mix.

2 onions
2 ribs of celery
2 carrots
1 walnut-sized piece of ginger
5-6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 T olive oil
1 T ground cumin
1 T ground coriander
2 t turmeric
1 lb. red lentils
1/2 C brown basmati rice
6 C water
cayenne, a few shakes
sea salt to taste

Process the ginger and garlic until finely chopped, or do it by hand. Cut the onions, celery and carrots into chunks and add them to the processor. Pulse till all vegetables are chopped, but not pureed. You can chop the vegetables finely by hand if you don’t have a processor.

Heat the oil in a 4 qt or larger soup pot. Dump in all the veggies, and saute for 4-5 minutes on high heat, stirring often. Lower heat to medium, and add the spices. I usually add the cayenne later, when there’s water in it, so it won’t make me tear or cough. Saute these for a few minutes, and add the lentils and rice. Pour in the water (I use filtered) and some salt and cayenne. Bring to a boil over low heat, and simmer for 1/2 – 3/4 hr. Taste for salt and heat, serve with some cilantro on top, or some spicy pepitas!