When cooking lentil soup, stirring in something tart and tangy can add vibrancy and complexity to the earthiness of the beans. Lemon juice, yogurt, and apple cider vinegar are old standbys. Another seasonal possibility is pomegranate.
In this recipe, pomegranate juice is a sweet-tart complement to the earthy, smoky base of lentils, vegetables, and spices. A generous sprinkling of pomegranate seeds provides each bowl with wondrous little bursts of color, texture, and flavor. Like most soups, this tastes even better the next day, after the flavors have had time to develop.
Pomegranate Lentil Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups diced onion
1/2 cup diced carrot
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 cups brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 1/2 cups finely chopped chard
6 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice*
1 large pomegranate, de-seeded
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and carrot and sauté until onion is translucent.
Add cumin and coriander and sauté for another minute.
Add lentils, chard, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
Stir in pomegranate juice and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.
*If making it from scratch, you will need about 3-4 pomegranates to make 1 1/2 cups of juice.
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Recipe originally published November 14, 2008.
(Image: Gregory Han)