Eat For Eight Bucks: Moroccan Red Lentil Soup

[Photograph: Phoebe Lapine of Big Girls, Small Kitchen]

When January 1st hits, my stomach can finally breathe a sigh of relief. I love the holidays and all, but after a while I begin to think that if I have to eat another sugar cookies or puff pastry canapé, I might explode. January is my time to detox, to get back to the sort of eating and cooking that takes up the other 10 months of the year, before Thanksgiving rears its carb-stuffed head.

But there's one problem: January is cold. And when the world outside my apartment screams stew but my body says salad, I'm torn. For these cold winter days, the answer is soup. This Moroccan lentil soup is both healthy and warm, light yet satisfying, jam packed with hearty ingredients and easy on the budget.

Shopping List: ½ cup red lentils, $0.50(prorated); 1 quart purchased stock, $2.00; 1 carrot, $0.25; cilantro, $0.25 (prorated); 1 lemon, $0.50
Pantry Items: Olive Oil, Onion, Garlic, Salt, Cumin, Ground Ginger
Total Cost (for 2 portions): $3.50

About the authors: Phoebe and Cara are the co-founders of Big Girls, Small Kitchen, a food and cooking website for twenty-something cooks looking for user-friendly, affordable ways to navigate their kitchens. They have a heated, decade-long rivalry about whose Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie is the best. Their book, Big Girls, Small Kitchen, will be published in the spring of 2011 by William Morrow. Visit their blog here.

Eat For Eight Bucks: Moroccan Red Lentil Soup

About This Recipe

Active time:10 minutes
Total time:30 minutes
Special equipment:Dutch Oven


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup dried red lentils
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (or water)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  1. 1

    Heat oil in large Dutch oven, or heavy lidded saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Saute onion and carrot, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, ground ginger, and salt and continue to sauté until very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add lentils, tomato paste, and stock.

  2. 2

    Bring to a simmer, then cook, partially covered until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in half cilantro and lemon juice. Taste for seasoning.

  3. 3

    Spoon soup into bowls, and garnish with remaining cilantro. Serve with crusty bread.


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