Simone Appetit: Cure-all, spiced-up red lentil and vegetable soup

Simone Grandmain
This incredibly delicious spiced-up red lentil vegetable soup will infuse every part of your body with warmth, health and happiness.
Courtesy Simone Grandmain |

Ah yes. There is nothing better than taking on your New Year’s resolutions with a head cold.

Admit it, this bug you can’t shake is buying you some serious down time in your baggy pajama pants watching “The Godfather” parts one and two (even you aren’t sick enough for Godfather Three). While you may be enjoying some real and imagined sick days, probably your family, and maybe even your employer, miss you, honey!

It is time to pull yourself up by your Genie Bra straps and rejoin the living. In the old days, before NyQuil rendered us well but unable to drive, our ancestors had to resort to “Jewish Penicillin,” or good old chicken soup.

My friend Rick Rucker has taken curative soups to a whole new level with what I like to call, due to its curry-spiced base, “Indian Penicillin.” It really does the trick. I am pretty sure this is why Deepak Chopra has never, ever had a cold. (I read that recently.)

Anyway — stuffy head, fever, cough or in perfect health, this soup is to live for. Rick used nine (count them nine!) spices to turn a hum-drum vegetable soup into a meal you would serve on a hot date. I take that back — it is a meal better served before your hot date as it really clears your sinuses and gives you a nice rosy glow.

I suppose this would be a good time to note, Rick Rucker, often featured in Simone Appetit, is not trying to steal my column. He has a job. He is general manger of Hampton Inn and Suites Truckee-Tahoe. What can I say? The man gives good recipe.

Spiced-up red lentil and vegetable soup

The beauty of this soup, besides the blending of the flavors and the aroma of the spices, is you can add more of your favorite vegetables and less of others. For instance kale, which has a very good “tooth” (chef talk for texture), can be used instead of the chard.


3 tbls. olive oil

1 large onion, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 1-2 inch pieces)

4 stalks celery, chopped (2 inches)

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 large carrots, peeled and sliced thick (1 / 2 inch)

1 Bay Leaf, crumbled

2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1 Star Anise (optional)

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

3 tbls. curry powder

2 tbls. coarsely ground black pepper

1 28 oz can whole, peeled tomatoes

64 oz vegetable broth

1 cup red lentils

1 lb. mini red potatoes

1 cup fresh whole green beans, ends trimmed

1 bunch Swiss chard, cleaned, with middle stems removed

1 block firm tofu, cut into quarters


In large stew pot, over medium heat, sauté onions in olive oil until soft. Add garlic and ginger and stir until all is blended and aromatic.

Add celery and carrots and all spices, stirring and cooking, again, until you can smell the spices releasing, about two minutes.

Add canned tomatoes, vegetable broth and potatoes and cook over medium-high heat for 30 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium low and add lentils, chard and green beans. Continue cooking for another 20 minutes. Add tofu, stir gently and cook for another 10 minutes.

Serve as is, nothing else is needed, and be happy and well.

Simone Grandmain is an internationally published travel and food writer who currently calls Truckee-Tahoe home. She welcomes your recipes, kitchen “must-haves” and food news at

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