Thursday, May 19, 2011

Can I Like a Lentil?

I want to like lentil soup. I really do. I've cooked a number of recipes over the years, and I'll eat a bowl or two, but I'm never impressed and inevitably end up with a giant pot of soup that sits in the fridge for two weeks until I get around to tossing it. I think it's a textural issue. I don't like how the lentil skins grit up my teeth and tongue.

I was hesitantly hopeful when I read through Dorie's recipe, because a) it uses some different seasonings: orange peel, a clove, coriander, ginger, and b) it is pureed, which might solve my aversion to the texture. I've been pretty impressed by her soups so far (and actually find myself craving the cauliflower soup, now that I finished eating what was in the freezer), so I thought there was a chance that Orange-Scented Lentil Soup (pg 90) would be the soup to change my opinion of lentils.

Nope. Still gritty. Still ugly.
This is not a bowl of soup you can beautify.
 The overall flavor was okay, but there was one thing that caused some particularly unpleasant mouthfuls. The instructions specifically say NOT to remove the spices or the orange peel before pureeing. I pulled the peel out, because I learned from her Spiced Squash, Fennel, and Pear Soup that, the longer the soup sits (in that case, frozen), the more overwhelming the orange flavor becomes. Perhaps I should have left it in, because the lentil soup didn't taste at all orangey. Regardless, I left the spices in. They did not break up when blended. Ever bite into a clove? Not pleasant. My very first spoonful involved a big old peppercorn. Yuck. If I liked this enough to make it again, I would remove the spices. I don't, though. I'll try to finish the pot (there's a first time for everything), but I won't be revisiting the recipe.

Conclusion: Indifferent. Lentils. Blah.


  1. Oh, my. No orange flavor and biting into bits of spices? Doesn't sound fun. Kudos for your attempt though!

  2. So did you try the recipe with French green lentils or with brown? Brown lentils are just bad so I hope you did not use them. Also the spices you mention sound particularly well matched to red Indian lentils. I highly recommend red lentils for creamed soups and curry "dal". Union Square cookbook has an excellent red lentil soup recipe which we made yrs ago. this blogger has posted the recipe:

  3. The recipe calls for french green lentils, but the only 2 options at the supermarket were "lentils" (brown), and "lentils with garlic spice" (also brown). I went with "lentils."

    I didn't know there was a specific lentil Indians use. Maybe I'll seek those out in the future, b/c Indian restaurants are basically the only place that I've liked lentils. Good tip. Thanks!

  4. Eileen if you ever make lentils again- I'd suggest buying them mail order- and give both red, and green "le Puy" a try, b/c brown lentils taste like mud IMO. If you have an organic market somewhere in the hinterlands of the TX coastal bend, they might even sell both kinds in bulk.