Smokey Red Lentil and Chorizo Soup
Hearty red lentils, spicy chorizo, fragrant sweet smoked paprika give this filling soup its layers of warmth and flavour. The perfect soup for any weeknight.
I got this recipe from a soup book called Hearty soups. Great little book that I think was gifted to me a long time ago. I have been making this red lentil soup for a long time too even before I ever made or tasted dhal with red lentils, an easy Indian inspired dish which i first tasted when I moved to Trinidad. More on that fabulous recipe on another post. This red lentil soup has a different flavour than that dhal. The paprika gives it a nice smokiness and it also has a lot of garlic and ginger in it too so it is not lacking any flavour at all. I have adapted the original recipe because I like to add in some pumpkin too and a little cayenne for a little heat as well. I also think that the original recipe calls for way too much red lentils in it for the amount of water/broth it asks for.
When I was back home it was really really easy to get my hands on chorizo and very good chorizo too, but here in Trinidad that is not always the case. I find it as sandwich meat at the grocery store sometimes but not often enough to be able to just depend on having it on hand every time I make this soup. I’m sure I can find it at one of the specialty stores here but I will also be paying specialty prices for it too. So instead what I usually do is fry up some bacon and spice it up with a chorizo blend of spices after it’s been frying for a while (chorizo spice being: some chilli powder, cumin and clove, you can also add coriander and oregano and thyme too for a more complex blend) and tada- you have chorizo’ish bacon bits!! Solves that problem. The real thing is obviously better but the soup itself works well with plain old bacon if you can’t get your hands on chorizo or maybe if you want a more frugal option. But I found out recently that @delmanofoods makes an awesome chorizo sausage here locally so next time I make this recipe I will be frying those up instead.
Red lentils are so easy to cook. They cook in no time as well. They don’t take nearly as long as the other varieties of lentils and they require no pre-soaking. They also cook right down to almost a purée just in case you have never cooked with them before. Just like the other varieties of lentils, although small they are mighty in nutritional value. They provide excellent amounts of minerals, B-vitamins, they are also a great source of protein and fibre. They are very filling and from a frugal standpoint are very inexpensive. So all in all they are a great food to include in your weekly roundup. This soup is a great meatless Monday/vegetarian option too. Just omit the chorizo and use vegetable stock or water instead of chicken stock. Hope you enjoy this simple soup that packs lots of nutrients and flavours all in one bowl.
- 4 tbsps of olive oil divided
- 1 onion chopped finely
- 1 large carrot sliced
- 1 celery stalk sliced
- 1 cup of cubed pumpkin/or squash of choice (optional)
- 2 garlic cloves chopped finely
- 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
- 1 tsp of smoked paprika
- ½ tsp of cayenne pepper
- 1½ cups of red lentils rinsed
- 4 cups or more of chicken broth or your choice of broth (plus more depending on your preference of soup thickness)
- 200 grams thinly sliced dry-cured chorizo (or bacon spiced as mentioned above or plain), approx ¾-1 cup
- 1 small bunch of parsley for garnish
- Reserve 1 tbsp of oil to fry up chorizo. Heat the rest of oil in a large sauce pan and add onion, carrot, celery, and pumpkin if using to sauté until softened, approx 8-10 min
- Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for another 1-2 min until the garlic is nice and fragrant
- Stir in cayenne and paprika and then add in lentils and stir well for them to get well coated with the flavourings.
- Add the stock and bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer until lentils are tender, approx 25-30 min. They will turn into a purée and the pumpkin will also melt away into the soup (you can also purée some of the soup for a smoother creamier texture) Add in extra stock or boiling water to adjust the thickness of soup to your liking.
- Meanwhile add the reserved oil to a pan and fry up your sliced cured chorizo until crisp on both sides 8-10 min ( if using raw sausage or bacon - pan fry the whole sausage until cooked through, allow to cool slightly and slice it once it’s cool enough to handle) Reserve oil from pan.
- Plate your soup, drizzle some of the remaining oil in pan from frying the chorizo on top, sprinkle some of the chorizo on top along with some fresh parsley and enjoy!
- You can also fry up your chorizo first in your soup pot, remove it from pan with a slotted spoon when it’s cooked. Then cook the veggies in the chorizo drippings for a smokier flavoured soup. Either way is fine you just won’t have reserved chorizo oil to drizzle over soup after. If using the drippings you do not need to add the olive oil to pot to sauté veggies with.
- You do not need to add the pumpkin or Squash to the soup. This is optional. It adds a nice sweetness to the soup that we love but if you prefer to not add it or you don’t have any, feel free to leave it out.