Curried Black Lentil Soup With Tadka Recipe

If you're into superfoods, you're probably into lentils. These small lens-shaped legumes are rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Aside from the health benefits of lentils, they are incredibly versatile in the kitchen. In this recipe we're using black lentils (aka beluga lentils) along with a tadka, a cooking technique commonly used in Indian cuisine where spices are fried in oil or ghee to release flavors before being added to a dish. The combination of cumin seeds, mustard seeds, curry leaves, garlic, and ginger toasted and melded together complement the earthy taste of the lentils and make this dish unbelievably delicious.

Wellness coach and recipe developer Miriam Hahn brings us this recipe. "Lentils and spices are two things I use a lot of in my cooking," she says. "I'm really loving black lentils lately and experimenting with all sorts of ways to use them. I like the nutty flavor, firm texture, and how they take on the flavor of the spices used in the recipe."

Keep reading to learn how to take curried black lentil soup to a new level by incorporating a tadka.

Gather the ingredients for curried black lentil soup with tadka

To make this recipe, start in the produce aisle and pick up onion, carrots, celery, spinach, garlic, and ginger.

Then you'll need fire-roasted tomatoes, black lentils, vegetable broth, tomato paste, and plain yogurt for topping. "Although other lentil varieties look similar in shape and size as black lentils, it's important to note that substituting another type won't work in this recipe because the cook times vary and we're going for a certain texture in this soup," Hahn explains.

Check your condiment and spice cabinet for avocado oil, salt, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and curry leaves.

Step 1: Add oil to a pot

Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large pot over medium heat.

Step 2: Sauté the onions, carrots, and celery

Add the onion, carrots, and celery and sauté for 8 minutes.

Step 3: Add more ingredients

Add the tomatoes, lentils, broth, tomato paste, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Turn off heat.

Step 4: Blend half of the soup

With an immersion blender, blend the soup halfway. (If using a stand blender, blend half of the hot soup in small batches and return blended soup to the pot.)

Step 5: Add the spinach

Add the chopped spinach and stir. Cover, and turn heat to simmer until ready to serve.

Step 6: Add oil to a pan

Make the tadka: Add the remaining oil to a medium-sized pan over medium heat.

Step 7: Add spices to the pan

Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds to the hot oil and let them cook for 3 minutes until they start to crackle.

Step 8: Add the curry leaves

Add the curry leaves and fry for another minute until fragrant.

Step 9: Add the final ingredients

Stir in the minced garlic and grated ginger and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes until the garlic turns golden brown and aromatic. Remove tadka from the heat.

Step 10: Garnish and serve

Dish the soup into bowls, garnish with yogurt and the tadka (including the oil it was cooked in), and serve.

How can I customize the lentil soup?

There are many ways to tailor the soup to your preferences. To start, you can include additional veggies like bell peppers, zucchini, or mushrooms to enhance flavor and nutrition. "To add extra vegetables to the soup, just add them into the pot in step 2 to give them a quick sauté with the onions, carrots, and celery," Hahn says. "In place of spinach, you can substitute other greens like kale or collards. You'll want to remove the stems and just add the chopped greens."

You can also adjust the spice level by increasing or decreasing the amount of cumin seeds, mustard seeds, garlic, and ginger. If you prefer a spicier soup, you can add diced jalapeño or serrano peppers to the saute stage or add some red pepper flakes to the tadka.

To make the recipe vegan, substitute a non-dairy yogurt for topping. A coconut or cashew variety will work fine.

What can I pair with the lentil soup?

Serve warm, freshly baked naan bread alongside the soup. Naan that pairs well with lentil-based dishes and is perfect for soaking up the flavorful broth. If you prefer the taste and texture of pita bread that is a nice option, or even toasted baguette slices for a crispier accompaniment. Crispy papadums, thin and crunchy Indian crackers made from lentil or chickpea flour, can be used for scooping up the soup.

Prepare a refreshing cucumber raita, a yogurt-based condiment seasoned with cucumber, mint, and spices. The coolness of the raita provides a nice contrast to the spiciness of the soup.

Soup and salad are always a good combination. Consider a kachumber salad, a refreshing and colorful salad made with diced cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and sometimes green chilies, cilantro, and lemon juice. It's a popular accompaniment to many Indian dishes, providing a burst of freshness and crunch.

Curried Black Lentil Soup With Tadka Recipe
5 from 14 ratings
This lentil soup is finished with a tadka of cumin and mustard seeds, along with curry leaves, ginger, and garlic. A dollop of yogurt adds a cooling touch.
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
45
minutes
Servings
8
Servings
hand dipping naan in soup
Total time: 55 minutes
Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons avocado oil, divided
  • 1 diced onion
  • 2 diced carrots
  • 2 diced celery stalks
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup black lentils
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 8 curry leaves
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • ½ cup plain yogurt for garnish
Directions
  1. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and sauté for 8 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, lentils, broth, tomato paste, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Turn off heat.
  4. With an immersion blender, blend the soup halfway. (If using a stand blender, blend half of the hot soup in small batches and return blended soup to the pot.)
  5. Add the chopped spinach and stir. Cover, and turn heat to simmer until ready to serve.
  6. Make the tadka: Add the remaining oil to a medium-sized pan over medium heat.
  7. Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds to the hot oil and let them cook for 3 minutes until they start to crackle.
  8. Add the curry leaves and fry for another minute until fragrant.
  9. Stir in the minced garlic and grated ginger and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes until the garlic turns golden brown and aromatic. Remove tadka from the heat.
  10. Dish the soup into bowls, garnish with yogurt and the tadka (including the oil it was cooked in), and serve.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 187
Total Fat 8.2 g
Saturated Fat 1.2 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 2.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 22.4 g
Dietary Fiber 4.7 g
Total Sugars 4.4 g
Sodium 415.6 mg
Protein 7.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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