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When blended, Le Puy lentils turn into a hearty soup. You can make it as smooth or chunky, thick or thin, as you like. A dollop of yogurt sauce on top makes each spoonful really satisfying.
Lior Lev Sercarz, from Mastering Spice
1 whole limon omani (dried Persian lime; 4 grams)
1 tablespoon dried garlic slices (5 grams)
1⁄2 teaspoon celery seeds (1 gram)
11⁄4 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds(6 grams)
1 teaspoon Urfa pepper (2 grams)
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
11⁄4 cups French Le Puy lentils (8 ounces)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Crack and crush the limon omani into smaller pieces by pressing it against a cutting board with the palm of your hand and transfer to a spice grinder along with the garlic. Finely grind them together and immediately mix with the whole celery seeds, mustard seeds, and Urfa.
To make the lentils: Coat the bottom of a large saucepan with oil (2 to 3 tablespoons). Set over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the spice blend. Cook, stirring continuously, until sizzling, about 30 seconds. Add the onion, season with salt, and stir well. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until barely tender, about 3 minutes; you want the carrot to keep a nice bite. Add the tomato paste and stir for 1 minute, then add the lentils and stir for 1 minute.
Add 3 cups cold water, raise the heat to high, and stir in the remaining spice blend. Bring to a boil, then season to taste with salt. Cover and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, stirring and seasoning with salt occasionally (so the lentils are seasoned and cook evenly), until the lentils are just tender, about 45 minutes. (There should be only a tiny bit of liquid left in the pan.)
With the lentils over low heat, use an immersion blender to puree them to your desired consistency (or, alternatively, ladle some into a blender, puree, and then stir it back into the saucepan). While blending, add cold water, 1⁄4 cup at a time, until the soup is as thin or thick as you like it. Season to taste with salt. The soup can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months.
Whisk 1⁄2 cup plain Greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice. Season to taste with salt. Dollop over the soup when serving and add a bit of olive oil as well if you like.