Perhaps it's because I'm married to a Southerner from Louisiana, but the idea of putting a leftover cooked ham bone and jalapeño pepper in an otherwise traditional Asian Indian curried red lentil (dal) soup recipe seemed like a worthwhile experiment.
When it's freezing out (like on the night I first made this recipe), a nice warm soup — that cooks in less than a half hour — is high on my list. Better yet, this recipe was made with food that I had in the fridge — avoiding a trip outside to the grocery store.
Play around with the amount of curry andthe vegetables — perhaps add some celery or cilantro or a can of garbanzo beans (I did, which made the soup into a rich, almost stew-like meal). This recipe can be made vegan using vegetable stock and no ham, which is more like a traditional vegetarian dal.
RECIPE SECRET: The addition of the lemon juice at the end is a must!
Notes: Try optional additions like leftover ham bone or cooked ham hock, 1 can of garbanzo beans, 1 celery rib chopped.
In a saucepan, heat the oil and add onion, jalapeño pepper, garlic, carrot, ginger and curry powder. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add lentils, chopped tomato and broth (and optional ham bone or ham hock if using) and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes until lentils are soft. If using a ham hock, remove from the soup, cut meat into ½-inch cubes and discard the fat and bone. Add salt and pepper to the soup and stir in lemon juice. Taste. Add more lemon juice, if desired.
Serve in cups or soup bowls and garnish with thin slices of jalapeño pepper, cilantro or a dollop of yogurt. For a thinner soup, add more broth.