Red lentils are a quick-cooking bean: no soaking, no waiting. Starchy like potatoes yet lightly sweet, the addition of a handful of kitchen spices, fresh ginger, garlic and leafy spinach greens make this last-minute soup a good option, especially for lots of people.
1/4 c. olive oil
1 lg. yellow, Spanish onion, diced
1 2-inch knob ginger, minced
2 Tbls. ground coriander
2 Tbls. mustard seeds
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 c. red lentils
4 lg. cloves garlic, minced
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
10 c. chicken stock or water as a vegetarian option
4 c. firmly packed spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
In a large soup pot, heat olive oil and add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and soft (about 5 minutes). Stir in ginger, coriander, mustard seeds, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, lentils, garlic and some salt, to taste. Cook and stir for about one minute.
Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook about 20 minutes until lentils are cooked through. Add spinach and cook for about one minute more to wilt the greens. Add salt to taste.