This recipe comes by way of my friend, Carl, a pianist cum master chef from Caraquet, New Brunswick. Carl is so animated when he talks about the luscious, gourmet foods he masterfully creates that you find yourself salivating at the mere thought of his kitchen.
Especially he describes the freshly-caught seafood. Caraquet sits at the mouth of Chaleur Bay which provides fantastic fishing from the cold waters of the North Atlantic. If you think Maine is famous for its lobsters, mamma mia, residents of Caraquet have such access to lobster it’s included in every meal…
Alas, I’m not in Caraquet to sample the native offerings, so this is not a seafood recipe. Carl made this soup for me years ago and I crave it regularly since. It’s warming and satisfying with a lemony zing that makes your tastebuds wake up and take notice. Everyone I’ve since treated to Carl’s recipe has in turn, like me, asked for the recipe, so here it is just in time for chilly autumn nights.
2 quarts (approx) chicken broth (homemade makes a huge difference)
4 carrots, peeled and thickly grated
1 cup red lentils
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 finely chopped shallots
3 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1/2 Tsp chili flakes (optional)
Juice of 2 lemons
Fresh cilantro/coriander, lightly chopped (optional)
Thickly grate your carrots and set aside. If you like a thick soup, you might opt for 6 carrots instead of 4. Rinse your lentils in a strainer until all the white starch has washed away.
Drizzle the olive oil into your soup pot over a medium high heat. When it’s heated but not smoking, toss in the ground coriander and cumin. Frying the spices releases their individual oils and full flavors. If you’re a hot head… err, spicy head like me, fry the chili flakes as well. Add the chopped shallots and stir until they’re translucent but not brown, then add the garlic and stir for a further minute until it softens.
Throw in the grated carrot and thoroughly toss it all together. Cover and cook for three minutes, then add the raw lentils, stir and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Now add the chicken broth, at least to the top of the carrot, or higher if you prefer a soupier soup. Bring to the boil, then immediately lower the heat to a low simmer until the lentils are soft.
Sprinkle with your fresh, citrusy cilantro and serve with some thickly buttered sourdough toast, homemade croutons or little delicious Italian black pepper twisty thingys like I have pictured here.
Thank you, Carl! As I’m sure they say in Caraquet, Bon Appetit.