Protein-rich, plant-based, and oh-so-nourishing, this golden dal soup is something both the 3-year-old and 45-year-old at my dinner table look forward to. Dal not only refers to the main ingredient in this recipe (red lentils in this case), but also describes the dish made from it—a creamy, thick stew. I’ve been a fan of dal since I first enjoyed the super cleansing kitchari in the test kitchen, and this thoroughly golden version is a great weeknight option.
Start by cooking your lentils in a simple turmeric-and-water broth seasoned with salt. To that add a dealer’s choice of golden vegetables: orange or yellow bell peppers, golden beets, sweet potatoes, or carrots. It's a great way to use up the odds and ends in the refrigerator. You’re shooting for 5 cups chopped, which also means you’ll end up with a vegetable-rich meal. Let the stew simmer until the vegetables are perfectly tender and the soup has thickened slightly, about 45 minutes.
While this is happening, prepare the gingered cherry-tomato relish. Warning: you will want to spoon this mixture over everything. I’m particularly fond of it tossed with roasted potatoes. Start by toasting whole cumin seeds in a dry pan. Then add some virgin coconut oil—this will sort of fry the seeds and make your kitchen smell amazing. Add some sliced shallots and let them get caramelized and crisp. Same goes for julienned fresh ginger. Save sliced cherry tomatoes for the very end of cooking; you want them to just collapse, to still have some shape. Season with salt and crushed red-pepper flakes if you’re looking for a bit more heat.
For serving: If the dal is on the thick side and you want to bulk up the meal, ladle it over some steamed brown rice. You can also adjust the consistency by adding a bit of water to keep it more brothy and light for spooning from a bowl. Usually the weather dictates which way I go. Top with a dollop of yogurt for a nice hit of tanginess and spoon the gingered tomato relish on top. Finish with fresh herbs like torn mint, basil, or cilantro.
This soup only improves over time, which makes it a great start-of-the-week big-batch operation. Store it in the fridge and pull it out when you need it. I’ve even enjoyed it for breakfast with a fried egg on top. It’s super-versatile and guaranteed to bring a bit of sunshine to the table.
Tune in on Sunday for a new Healthy Appetite video from Shira Bocar.
Watch Shira make this colorful, nutritious lentil dinner: