I made this soup with Toor Dal (Yellow lentils), You could easily make it with brown lentils and save a bit of the cooking time.
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground
pinch of ground cayenne pepper
1 heaping cup of yellow lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 small onion, halved
1 bay leaf
salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup chopped cilantro
(optional- plain yogurt for non vegetarians)
1. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot on medium heat. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the cumin and cayenne pepper. Stir together briefly and then add lentils, onion, bay leaf, and 1 1/2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, until the lentils are tender and the broth aromatic. (if using brown lentils your cooking time may be as low as 40 minutes).
2. Salt and pepper to taste. Discard the onion and the bay leaf.
3. Puree half of the soup in small batches in a blender. (be sure to cover the top of the blender with a towel and press firmly on the lid to make sure hot liquid doesn’t spill on you). Return to soup pot, stir and heat through.
4. Stir in cilantro just before serving. (if you eat dairy, add a dollop of plain yogurt to the top of each bowl) Will serve 4.