Red Lentil and Rice Soup

Red Lentil and Rice Soup

Recipe

This is another of those thick and hearty soups the Indians of Malaysia love to cook. Nothing fancy, just a bowl of deeply flavored, simple and nourishing food. The combination of red lentils and basmati rice cooked with the earthiness of paprika and garlic provides layers of savory flavor to the dish.

The onions, garlic, tomato paste, fresh tomatoes and paprika form the base of flavor, therefore, you would want to make sure this part is browned properly. After that it’s all very straightforward, as the lentils and rice are added to the pot and cooked until very soft and creamy. Make sure the lentils are thoroughly cleaned before adding them; run water through them until the water runs clear. Otherwise you might end up with a lot of foam on the surface. For faster cooking time you could also soak the lentils in warm water overnight, although I personally don’t fuss with that. It is important that you use good extra virgin coconut oil or olive oil, and don’t skimp on the quantity. The greatest pleasure in this soup is in the taste of properly browned onions, which are the key to the success of this dish.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 ½ cup red lentils

¼ cup white basmati rice

4 tablespoons extra virgin coconut or olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about ½ cup)

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 large tomato, chopped

1 ½ tablespoons paprika

6 cups chicken stock or water

½ teaspoon salt or to taste

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Garnish

1 fresh jalapeño, sliced

  1. Wash the lentils and rice together by gently rubbing them with your fingers in a bowl under cold running water until the water runs clear. Drain the lentils and rice and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil and butter in a deep pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring until they are soften but not brown. Stir in the tomato paste, tomatoes and paprika. Cook, stirring for 1 minute to infuse the flavors.
  3. Add the lentils and rice into the pot and mix well. Add the stock or water and bring to a boil uncovered over medium heat. Skim off any foam that may appear on the surface during the cooking process. Lower the heat, cover the pot and allow the lentils to cook, stirring intermittently, until the rice is cooked about 35minutes.
  1. Add salt and pepper. Taste, add more salt if needed. Cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the soup appears too thick add some water. Garnish with jalapeño and serve.
Red Lentil and Rice Soup

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Hainan cuisine made its way to British Malaya in the late 1800s through cooks who ventured to this colony in search of greener pastures. Working in expatriate homes, camps and for wealthy Europeans, they soon mastered the culinary skills to make familiar European food such as roasts, soups and bread. Over time, the inevitable fusion of European and Chinese came to be known as Hainanese cuisine.
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