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Curried Red Lentil Soup With Raita

Curried Red Lentil Soup With Raita
Julie O'Hara for NPR /

Raita is an Indian yogurt salad, often used as a cooling condiment with fiery dishes. This simple version is a refreshing counterpoint to the warming yet mild spices in the soup. Serve with store-bought naan or other flat bread.

Makes 4 servings

5-inch piece English cucumber, peeled

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 3/4-inch pieces

4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 cup water

1 1/2 cups red lentils, picked over and rinsed

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/3 cup (loosely packed) fresh mint leaves, chopped

6 ounces plain Greek yogurt

Grate the cucumber on the large holes of a box grater. Place in a fine mesh strainer and press to extract as much water as possible. Let it sit in the strainer to drain while you start the soup.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, jalapeno and cumin seeds. Cook until onion is lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, curry powder, coriander and turmeric and cook 1 minute. Add the potatoes and stir to coat with spices. Add the broth, water and lentils. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cook until potatoes are tender and soup is thickened, about 20 minutes. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

Prepare the raita while the soup cooks: Press grated cucumber again to extract more water. In a small bowl, combine cucumber, all but 1 tablespoon of the mint and yogurt. Season with black pepper and a pinch of salt.

Ladle soup into bowls and serve with a dollop of raita. Garnish with remaining mint.

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