Crazy Red Lentil Soup

I managed to come down with some awesome cold virus this week. It started as a tickle on Sunday, a dry allergy-ish cough on Monday, and a heavy-chested disoriented fever on Tuesday morning. It's been so damp and cold here in NYC. I though rest, tea and soup were knocking it out, but now it's up in my head and I fear an ear infection is coming on. What a week. Complain, complain, complain. 

No complaints about dinner tonight, though! I finally had enough energy to cook tonight, and with my head and ears feeling congested I wanted something healthy, hot, flavorful and a bit spicy. It came out pretty good - a little kick, a little sour. Don't worry, I haven't lost my sense of taste - my husband had two big bowls. 

It looks like a lot of ingredients, but everything is easy to prep, and you really just throw it in a pot and cook it - no big deal. You could take or leave many of the things below, and still come out with a pretty good soup.

Crazy Red Lentil Soup
Approx. 6 servings, 30-45 minutes

2 T olive oil
2 tsp unsalted butter
½ C leeks, cleaned and chopped
½ C onions, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp ginger, peeled and minced
1 tsp cumin seeds or ground cumin
1 tsp ground cayenne
½ tsp adobo seasoning
4 carrots, sliced
1 green apple, peeled and diced
2 plum tomatoes, diced
4 C “no-chicken” or vegetable stock
1-1/2 C water
1-1/2 C red lentils
½ C lemon juice
½ C cilantro, chopped
3 strips veggie bacon, cooked and crumbled
salt, pepper and cayenne to taste

1. Sauté onion and leeks in olive oil and butter for about 5 minutes over low-medium heat. Add garlic, ginger and cumin seeds for another 3 minutes.

2. Stir in cayenne, adobo, carrots, apple, tomato, stock and water. Bring to a boil and add lentils. Lower heat and simmer 20 minutes.

3. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne to taste. Add lemon juice, cilantro and veggie bacon. Remove from heat and set a few minutes before serving. Serve topped with excess bacon and cilantro.
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