Lentil and Sweet Red Pepper Soup with Cumin and Black Pepper
i use a small, plump, shrewdly marketed black lentil dubbed "beluga" for 
this soup, but you can use dark green french lentils or flat olive-green 
ones, or you can try other pulses such as split peas green, orange, or 
gold. just be prepared to adjust the amount of stock or water. whole 
cumin and black peppercorns, crushed just before you add them to the 
soup, flavor it boldly. i have served this soup three different ways 
straight from the pot, irregularly mashed in a mortar, and fully puréed 
in a blender or processor. each method produces a different texture and 
character, and i like all three. 
active time: 20 min start to finish: 40 min 
1 cup  lentils (preferably small)
1   fresh flat-leaf parsley sprig, finely chopped (including stem)
1   turkish bay leaf or 1/2 california bay leaf
2 cup  chicken broth
2 cup  water
24   whole black peppercorns
1/4 tsp  cumin seeds
4 Tbsp  extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup  finely diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup  finely diced carrot
1/4 cup  finely diced celery
1/4 cup  finely chopped onion
2   garlic cloves, chopped
simmer lentils with parsley, bay leaf, broth, and water in a 4-quart 
saucepan, uncovered, until tender, 30 to 40 minutes. 
while lentils are cooking, coarsely grind peppercorns with cumin using a 
mortar and pestle or an electric coffee/spice grinder. heat 1 tablespoon 
oil in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until hot but not 
smoking, then cook bell pepper, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. 
add spices and cook, stirring, 1 minute. add carrot, celery, onion, 
garlic, and remaining 3 tablespoons oil and cook, stirring, until carrot 
is tender, about 8 minutes. stir in lentil mixture and discard bay leaf. 
puree 1 cup soup in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending 
hot liquids). stir purée into remaining soup and reheat over moderate 
heat, stirring. season soup with salt and pepper. if soup seems too 
thick, thin with water to desired consistency. 
cooks' note: 
soup can be made 1 day ahead and cooled, uncovered, then chilled, 
makes about 5 cups. 
(ID: 4219) Mirror: rec.food.recipes: Tue, Dec 28, 2004

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