Tomato and Cabbage Red Lentil Soup (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Tomato and Cabbage Red Lentil Soup (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Two soup-er ideas for comfort and flavor

Like many others right now, I’m cooking my way through my pantry and using ingredients I have on hand (or ones that are easily available).

Smoky Split Pea Soup is based on a soup my mother made regularly when I was growing up. It can be made vegetarian. It makes a fine regular split pea soup if your cupboard is missing the “smoky” elements.

Tomato and Cabbage Red Lentil Soup is slightly spicy and very comforting. Substitute kale or other greens for the cabbage.


Smoky Split Pea Soup

Serves 6 to 8

  • 2 Tbs. oil plus more as needed
  • 6 oz. smoked bacon (turkey, beef or vegetarian)
  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 4 tsp. finely chopped garlic
  • ½ tsp. smoked or regular paprika
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. smoked or regular salt, or to taste
  • ¼ to ½ tsp. cayenne, or to taste
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 8 to 9 cups vegetable broth (see notes)
  • 2 cups dried green split peas, sorted over and rinsed
  • 1 large dried bay leaf
  • 1 cup carrot slices (¼-inch rounds)
  • 2 cups potato in ½-inch chunks (see notes)
  • Chopped parsley or green onions, for garnish

Heat oil in bottom of a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add meat or veggie bacon. Cook until brown and crispy on both sides (working in batches if needed). Remove and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Add more oil if needed. Add onion. Sauté until softened, stirring up any browned bits of bacon. Add garlic. Sauté until golden. Stir in paprika, cumin, salt, cayenne and pepper. Sauté 1 minute. Add 8 cups of broth. Stir in split peas. Add bay leaf. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Immediately reduce heat to bring to simmer. Add carrots and potatoes. Return to simmer, cover and keep at simmer, stirring occasionally and adding water if needed. Remove from heat when peas are soft, about 40 minutes (timing will vary).

Taste and adjust salt and seasonings. Serve as is or let cool and use an immersion blender to purée half the soup. (Or blend half the soup in batches in a regular blender, or use a potato masher.) Reheat soup, adding water if needed. Cut bacon into ¼-inch pieces. Scatter on top with parsley.

Notes: Use light vegetable broth. If your broth is heavier (dark and more opaque), use half water, half broth. If broth is not available, use all water. Use red, Yukon or similar potatoes.

Smoky Split Pea Soup (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Smoky Split Pea Soup (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Tomato and Cabbage Red Lentil Soup

Serves 4

  • 2 Tbs. oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp. curry powder (see notes)
  • ¼ tsp. salt, or to taste
  • ¼ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • 3 cups fresh or canned diced tomatoes (see notes)
  • 2 cups roughly chopped cabbage
  • 1 cup dried red lentils, rinsed
  • 5 cups vegetable broth plus more as needed (see notes)
  • ¼ tsp. hot sauce or to taste, optional
  • Chopped cilantro or parsley, for garnish

Heat oil in a soup pot on medium-high. Sauté onions until softened. Add garlic. Sauté until golden. Add curry, salt, pepper and cumin. Sauté 1 minute. Add tomatoes (if using canned, drain and reserve juice). Sauté until soft. Stir in cabbage. Add 5 cups of broth (and reserved tomato juice). Stir in red lentils. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover, lower heat to keep at simmer, stirring occasionally and adding broth if needed until lentils are soft, about 30 to 40 minutes (timing will vary). Taste. Adjust seasonings. Add hot sauce. Garnish with cilantro.

Notes: Use curry powder or garam masala. If not available, double cumin and add ¼ tsp. ground ginger and ⅛ tsp. cayenne. Use different colored tomatoes for more color. See note in previous recipe on broth.

Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. She blogs about her food at clickblogappetit.com. Contact Faith at clickblogappetit@gmail.com.