1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper — adjust based on your preferences
1 tsp soy sauce
2 cups baby spinach
salt and pepper to taste
Start the soup: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot on medium medium heat. Add the onion, cook for a few minutes until it begins to soften.
Add the carrots and celery, if using, followed by the garlic. Cook for another minute or two.
Stir in the lentils with the other tablespoon of olive oil. Add the dried spices at this time–cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and cayenne. Stir to combine.
Add liquids: Add the broth and water to the pot, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer uncovered. Add the soy sauce. Simmer uncovered for at least 20 minutes, until the vegetables and lentils are soft.
Purée the soup: When the lentils and carrots are soft, purée the soup using a handheld blender. Alternatively, transfer the soup into a food processor to purée in batches. I like to leave a bit of the lentils and carrot pieces for consistency.
Add spinach: Stir the baby spinach into the puréed soup. Add salt and pepper to taste. Heat the spicy lentil soup with Swiss chard for about 5 minutes to let the flavors meld.
Serve: Serve the spicy lentil soup in bowls while hot. Enjoy, perhaps with a glass of Vouvray!
Adjust the amount of cayenne pepper based on how much spice you like. If you like it really hot you could try more than the 1/4 teaspoon we give as the higher end of range.
Soy sauce add umami to this dish.
You could add other greens instead of the spinach, but they make take longer to cook. We have used previously cooked Swiss chard with good results.