Southwest Lentil Soup

Serves 6-8 as a bowl of soup or 10-12 as a side dish

Lentils are one of the easiest legumes to prepare. They don’t need to be pre-soaked and only take approximately 20-25 minutes to cook vs. the typical 1-½ to 3 hours for most other dried-bean varieties. Lentils are earthy and meaty and, in this almost-chili-like form, are an excellent vegetarian option for those who otherwise might say “where’s the beef?” Roasted and peeled poblano chilies, tangy cumin and slowly sweated onions lend tons of well-rounded flavor to the simple legumes. Serve them on the thinner side as a soup, or a touch thicker as a hearty, zesty side to something more substantial, like a grilled pork chop or crispy-skinned duck breast. Whichever route you go, lentils can be a quick, healthy and satisfying addition to your diet.


  • 1 lb. Lentils
  • 1-¼ qt. rich Vegetable or Chicken Broth, or Water
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion, large, sweet variety, diced
  • 1 tsp. Chipotle Chile Powder
  • 1 Tbsp. Cumin Powder
  • 1 Tbsp. Garlic, fresh, minced
  • 1 Poblano Pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, diced (SEE NOTE BELOW)
  • 2 Tomatoes, large, ripe cored, diced (If tomatoes aren’t ripe or in season, use high-quality, canned, diced tomatoes)
  • To Taste: Kosher or Sea Salt
  • To Taste: Black Pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 Tbsp. Cilantro, fresh, chopped


In a medium-sized sauce pan, cover the lentils with broth or water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, with the lid ajar, until the lentils are tender and the cooking liquids are almost fully absorbed. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, over medium-low heat, sweat the onions in the olive oil until tender and translucent (roughly 10 minutes). Add the dry seasonings and continue to cook for 5 more minutes to open up the spices. Stir to prevent burning. Add the garlic, stir and cook 2 more minutes. Add the roasted poblano pepper and tomatoes and stir well. Pour the mixture into the pot of lentils and add enough liquid to reach your desired target consistency. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes to marry the flavors. Taste, season and adjust the flavors with salt, pepper and additional heat if you like. If you’d like a more creamy consistency, use a small hand-held stick blender and puree just a portion of the contents and then stir. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro just before serving. NOTE: Using a blow torch, or placing the pepper directly onto a gas burner, or right under the flames of a broiler, can blacken the skin faster, leaving the flesh underneath less cooked and more intact after peeling off the charred skin. The higher the heat that you can use to char the skin, the quicker it will actually happen, and less the peppers will overcook in the process. Simply throwing them into a hot oven will take longer to char the skin, and in the process the peppers will become much softer. This applies to roasting all types of peppers.

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