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Soup with red lentils and bulgur

I should say farewell to frozen, frigid and ferocious February. If there was anything good about it, it was the month I spent out of the elements, recuperating at home from Influenza A and the nine days I had to spend in the hospital. At least I picked the right season – and, yes, I had that flawed flu shot in October.

I have enjoyed some wonderful, healing soups this month, thanks to my friends, but one stands out above the others – a curried lentil soup with a chutney butter that warmed and comforted. Created by one of my favorite cookbook authors, Sarah Leah Chase, I cannot recommend it highly enough. I learned that the recipe came from her book, “Cold Weather Cooking”, a copy of which I had right on my shelves. Here it is with the hope you will try and enjoy.

CURRIED LENTIL SOUP WITH CHUTNEY BUTTER

(6 servings)

SOUP

3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

1 large onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger

2 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded and minced

3 cinnamon sticks, 2-inches each

2 bay leaves

1 generous tablespoon Madras curry powder

1-1/2 cups yellow lentils or yellow split peas

2 to 2-1/2 quarts chicken broth, preferably homemade

2 lemons

1/4 cup minced cilantro

Salt to taste

CHUTNEY BUTTER

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 cup mango or peach chutney

To make the soup, melt the butter over medium-high heat in a heavy soup pot. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, chiles, cinnamon sticks and bay leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and transluscent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the curry powder and cook 2 minutes more.

Add the lentils and 2 quarts chicken broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer uncovered 15 minutes. Halve the lemons, squeeze the juice, and add both the juice and lemon rinds to the soup. Continue to simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. Add the cilantro and salt to taste.

If the soup seems too thick, thin with additional chicken broth. Make the chutney butter by processing the butter and chutney together in a food processor until smooth. Ladle the hot soup into bowls and top with a generous dollop of the butter. Serve at once.

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