Dinner Tonight: Spicy Ginger and French Lentil Soup


[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Though this looks like one of those simple and comforting lentil soups, be warned: "spicy" is in the title from The Breakaway Cook for a reason. But instead of getting all of its attack from chiles, most of the heat here comes from a mound of minced ginger.

A heaping half cup is used, which means that your enjoyment of the soup probably hinges on your love of ginger. If you're in, you'll be rewarded with fascinating twist on the classic soup.

That said, it's not all about the ginger. A ham hock is added to give the lentils a rich and meaty backbone, while carrot juice and a slightly sweet white wine helps to balance things out. At the end, some crumbled bacon and a dollop of yogurt help round the flavors out. Still, it's the ginger that sets this recipe apart.

The only thing I changed was the cooking time. The original recipe claims that it should simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, which seemed like an awful long time to cook green lentils, which become tender after 45 minutes or so. The longer you cook it, the more relaxed the ginger flavor becomes. But if you're like me, and kind of like the kick of the ginger, then this recipe can be completed in under an hour.

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