24 March 2010

Playing With My Food... Chicken and Red Lentil Soup

When I was a kid, my mother would tell me to clean my plate and not play with my food. Why, I wondered? Of course, after having children of my own, I get it. You're busy, dinner is a pedestrian affair most times when your kids are young, and you have about a million different things on your mind and your schedule... a kid playing with his/her food can send you 'round the bend'. BUT I'm all grown up now and the kids have beat it to their own worlds. Now, I have the time and the inclination... and a new camera. I also have Spring fever and want food with color... so, I give you color and flavor.

This soup is a South Beach Diet Cookbook soup ... Phase 2... if you care. I love it because it has curry and chicken and pretty garnishes ... and I always make gorgeous biscuits that are chock full of herbs and cheese to 'go with', which shoots that Phase 2 thing right into outer space. It's an easy meal that feels like you did a whole lot more than you did (insert wink here). No need to tell anyone, right?

Most soups start with the basics and this soup in no different.

Because it's an Indian-type soup, it has the aromatic spices.

Lentils are the flavorful filler that give fiber and beautiful color.

Lean chicken keeps the calories down and gives more protein and ... meatiness.

Spicy broth incorporates in a short time... the beauty of this soup is that you can cook it pretty quickly, but if it sits off the heat for an hour or two, the spices really come into their own and the soup is greatly improved.

A bit of tomato paste in the broth enriches everything and makes the soup psychedelically complete.

Garnishes really do enhance ... toasted sweetened coconut is so yummy and a welcome little sweet tease.

A pretty Spring supper. Chicken and Red Lentil Soup...
... because there can NEVER be too many chicken soup recipes...
...because I said so!

Chicken and Red Lentil Soup
courtesy of The South Beach Diet Cookbook


1 tbsp. olive oil (I use red pepper infused)
2 medium carrots, peeled and small dice
2 medium stalks celery, small dice
1 medium onion, small dice
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 generous tsp. Madras curry powder
¼ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
¾ c. lentils plus a bit more
2 lbs. boneless breast chicken
3 c. strong chicken broth
1 tbsp. tomato paste
2 c. water
sliced scallions for garnish
toasted coconut for garnish
unflavored yogurt or sour cream for garnish

Making the Soup:

1. Heat the oil in a soup pot and add the carrots, celery, onions, and garlic – sauté for about five minutes.

2. Add the spices and stir constantly until they begin to stick to the pan.

3. Add the red lentils and the chicken broth and stir to ‘clear’ the bottom of the pan of the sticky spices.

4. Chop the chicken breasts into chunks and lay on top of the veggies and lentils.

5. Cover and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.

6. Mix a bit of the water with the tomato paste to make a smooth sauce and stir gently into the broth. Add the rest of the water and re-cover.

7. Continue simmering for about ½ hour.

8. Remove the cooked chicken to a plate and shred or chop into bite-sized pieces.

9. Measure out 2 cups of the soup – get the lentils and vegetables.

10. Place in a blender bowl and purée. Return to the soup pot and stir to combine.

11. Return the chicken to the soup and either serve immediately with the garnishes on the table to finish the soup bowls OR turn the heat off, leave covered and reheat gently when you want to serve the soup.


  1. This is a very pretty post ... and the soup looks wonderful! It's supposed to be sunny later today, but it's chilly right now... this soup is looking really good to me!

  2. Yum! and Thanks! Made this last night for supper and the house still smells like curry. Thought to make some Naan to go with it, but thought of it too late. Next time.


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