2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
½ tsp of salt, or to taste
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon paprika
½ tsp crushed red pepper, or to taste
2 cups dried red lentils (green may be substituted, but color is not as vibrant)
¼ cup cracked freekeh, bulgur or brown rice (the latter is gluten-free)
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
6 cups of low sodium chicken broth
Garnish with chopped fresh mint
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
When hot, add the tomato paste, onion, celery and red pepper.
Cook, stirring often, for about 8 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
Add the jalapeño and salt and continue to cook, stirring often, for 2 more minutes.
Add the cumin, paprika, and red pepper.
Cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until the spices are aromatic.
Add the lentils and freekah (or rice for a gluten-free version).
Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or until they are coated with spices.
Stir in the tomatoes and chicken broth.
Bring the soup to a boil.
Skim any foam that forms at the surface of the liquid.
Lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until lentils and freekah are tender.
Taste for seasoning, and add more salt or crushed red pepper, to taste.