Finishing my series on soup, I am switching from vegetable to lentil based soup this week by making Toor Dal Soup.
One of the most popular lentils in Indian cuisine is toor or red gram, even though it takes longer to cook than other lentils. It has a tan skin with a pale yellow pea inside. The meaty, nutty texture is perfect for spicy dishes. When its skin is removed and split in half it is called toor dal. In the U.S. it is sometimes called pigeon peas.
Toor dal cooks in about a half hour. I simply put it in a pan with some water and simmer until the dal is tender. If it isn’t fully cooked, it will yield a lumpy or gritty soup. To see if the dal is done, press a few lentils between your fingers. If they squish without resistance, it is done.
While the dal cooks, I season some olive oil in a pot with an assortment of Indian spices. In this oil, onion, garlic and tomato are cooked until they fall apart and become a thick paste. When the dal is ready, it is added to the pot and mixed well. I add a cup of water to loosen consistency so I can use my immersion blender to purée it. After it becomes smooth, add more water to reach your desired consistency.
I add a thinly sliced cooked carrot to the soup for color, variety and just for fun. I like finding vegetables that are hidden in my soup.
This vegetarian Toor Dal Soup can be served at lunch or dinner as the main dish with a piece of naan or as a starter with dinner. It is a warm treat on a cold day.