soup, cilantro and sunshine (not in that order)

Hello! There is not a cloud in the sky here today. I got to watch the sunrise colors glow as the day dawned. I can't remember the last time I was able to do that. It's been so dreary. The clouds began to break yesterday afternoon and by the time we were finishing our meal at the farm the sunset was beginning to blush. We quickly cleared the dishes and took a walk through the meadows to enjoy it.

sunset, farmland, winter, beauty, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

It was a lovely day. I hope that whatever you were doing yesterday was lovely as well.

And now, how about some soup? If you have been indulging like I have been lately you might be craving a nice hearty bowl of soup. This soup is one of my very favorites, but for some reason I hadn't made it in a very long time. I was so glad to remember it and plan to make it more often. Its quick, easy and vegan (though if you prefer you can make it with chicken broth instead of vegetable). I think that it's really delicious with bright flavors of tomato, lemon and cilantro and a bit of spice. I made a pot earlier this week and am looking forward to eating leftovers for lunch today.

soup, red lentil soup, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Red Lentil Soup (adapted from this New York Times recipe)

  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion (I like to chop mine coarsely)
  • 2 large minced garlic cloves (more or less to taste...)
  • 1 heaping TB of tomato paste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • a pinch of ground chili powder and/or cayenne (I like to use generous pinches of both, but adjust to your taste or mood to make the soup more or less spicy)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (or broth of your choice... I use vegetable bullion at half strength to keep from overpowering other flavors)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup dried red lentils
  • 1 large carrot chopped (I them in large chunks, too)
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon or more to taste
  • Chopped fresh cilantro (they recommend 3 TB, I like to use a bit more and add more as a garnish, especially when reheating leftover soup)

  1. Heat olive oil (2-3 TB) till shimmering. Add onion and garlic and saute until golden.
  2. Add tomato paste and spices, stirring to coat the onions and garlic. Continue cooking for a few minutes more.
  3. Add carrots and stir to coat with the tomato paste and onion/garlic mixture. Pour in broth and water and stir. Bring to a simmer and then partially cover pot, simmering for about 10 minutes. Add lentils and cook for another 20 minutes or so, until lentils are tender. 
  4. Use an immersion blender and partially blend the soup to thicken, leaving some nice chunks. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can blend part of the soup in a regular blender instead.
  5. Stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Add salt to taste.
  6. Serve, drizzling olive oil over the soup in the bowl and garnishing with cilantro leaves, a dusting of more chili powder and/or cayenne and another squeeze of lemon juice.
This past year I discovered a wonderful trick to keep it fresh longer. I love cooking with cilantro, but always found it hard to store it without wasting most of the bunch. What I do now is wash the cilantro, gently dry off excess water and then bunch it back up and place it in a glass of water. Finally I cover the whole thing with a plastic bag and place a rubber band around the opening to keep it closed before storing it in the refrigerator. It will last quite a while like this. 

Edit: I had a question over on Facebook asking to clarify which part of the cilantro bunch you put in the water... you'll want to put the stems in the water, just like you would with a bunch of flowers. Then cover the whole thing with the bag. Hope that helps get rid of any confusion!

Happy cooking!


  1. Anne, I love to make soup and I love to eat it, too. Your soup delicious; anything with cilantro in it gets my attention. Beautiful photo. . . sunrise and sunset are my favorite times of the day. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas. ~ Nancy

    1. Oops, that should read "Your soup LOOKS delicious". :)

  2. Sounds wonderful, Anne! Your sunrise photo is gorgeous!

  3. Lovely photos Anne. The soup looks and sounds delicious. I think cilantro is called coriander here in the UK so I will use that to make the soup. My taste buds could do with being revitalized after eating so much heavy food! Thank you for sharing the recipe. I will have a go at making it next week. :-)

    1. Hi, Simone. Here in the U.S. the fresh plant is cilantro and the dried seeds are coriander. I've also heard it called Mexican parsley, though there's another herb with that name, too. So confusing!

      Hope you try the soup and enjoy it!

  4. Lovely and completely earthy post, gorgeous sunset! I hope you had a nice Christmas Anne. Wishing you a very happy, inspiring, creative and filled with love 2015! Big hugs from frosty Scotland!

    1. Hi, Aga! My Christmas was great. I hope yours was, too. I'm looking forward to what we both create in 2015! Big hugs back from the US.

  5. This looks scrumptious! I will have to try it. Thanks for sharing...

    1. I hope you do! It's SOOO good. I can't believe it had been so long since I'd made it.



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