Calcutta Curry Soup



Red Lentils—one of the most colorful legumes around.  They’re nutritious, delicious and they cook fast if you need some quick protein in a meal.  Check out World’s Healthiest Foods for an afternoon read on these adorable orange delights.  They’re best if rinsed numerous times before cooking: pour water into a bowl with the lentils, stir and swish everything around, then drain and repeat a few times until the water is mostly clear.  Rinsing will help remove the dust as well as the residual starch.


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This was another soup from the Deli days.  The now not-so-secret ingredient is star anise, an idea totally swiped from a lentil soup once made by my friend and chef Phillip Becht during our Loring Café days in Minneapolis during the 1990’s.  Sometimes all you need is the idea of an ingredient to take it down another path.  Thanks, Phil.


In the Deli we would make our own signs to hang in the self-serve area, and for this soup I knew it needed an elephant on the sign.  I researched (this was before super easy-access internet days!) Asian elephants and found they have much smaller ears than their African counterparts.  I then spent a ridiculous amount of time drawing anatomically correct ears on the little elephant in the soup sign.  Hopefully no elephants were offended in the making of this project.





Shameless attempts at luring internet readers by including photos of CATS?  Hmm, interesting thought.



One could also make this soup thick by using a little less water and serve it as a dal with Basmati rice, a dollop of yogurt on top wouldn’t be bad either.


Calcutta Curry Soup

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 90 minutes


Sauté lightly in a soup pot:

1 Onion, diced

3-4 stalks Celery, diced

3 cups Carrots, diced

Oil of your choice

After a few minutes add:

7 cups Water

1 pound Red Lentils (about 2 cups), well rinsed and checked for stones

2 cups Potatoes, diced

1 cup Squash, cubed

1 – 2 teaspoons Sea Salt

Simmer on low heat for about an hour.

Stir often because red lentils can easily scorch. Remove white foam that may collect on the top. 

Then add: 

2 teaspoons Rice Vinegar

2 teaspoons Curry Powder

1 teaspoon Fennel Seed, whole

1 teaspoon Star Anise, ground—I use a coffee grinder

1 teaspoon Cumin

3 cloves Garlic, minced

Black Pepper to taste

Simmer another 30 minutes with the spices. 

Taste and adjust, especially water and salt. 

Serve as is, or puree in a food process for a smoother texture. 

Before serving add:

Fresh Parsley, chopped



My most recent Morning Pages notebook that is ALMOST full….this marks Week 340.




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