This is a hearty vegetarian soup, which is guaranteed to take the chill off the cold winter days. Lentils are simmered with potatoes, carrots, kale and celery in a warmly spiced vegetable stock. Enjoy with fresh crusty bread.
File powder is also known as sassafras leaves. It's a thickening agent and can be purchased in speciality shops or online. Alternatively, you can use a little bit of cornflour mixed with water.
I brought this to a potluck tonight and everyone loved it. I had made these changes: 1 tsp of cumin instead of 1/4 tsp, 1/2 package of frozen spinach instead of kale, added about 1 tsp of garam masala. I didn't have any cilantro, but I think that would have been good. Also, I thought the vegetable would get too mushy cooked the way the recipe said, so I cooked the lentils with the broth and spices (only took about 15 minutes) and then added the sauted onions through garlic and cooked until done. - 07 Mar 2004 (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)
Delicious! This soup has a very hearty and delightfully unique taste. The fact that it is vegetarian and could easily be made vegan by subbing olive for the butter is an added bonus. My lentils were tender in only 25 minutes; lentil cooking times vary greatly depending on how long they have been stored, so I would advise checking them to make sure that you do not end up with mush. I used 1 teaspoon of cumin and did adjust the seasoning at the end by adding some Himalayan sea salt, which I thought was sorely needed, perhaps because I used low sodium vegetable broth. File powder is ground sassafras leaves used for both flavoring and thickening. I don’t think it was necessary to thicken this soup but the file powder in addition to the other spices added a wonderful complexity to the flavor. It can be ordered from Penzeys.com if your grocery does not carry it. I will definitely make this soup again! - 24 Sep 2010 (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)
I love this! I whipped this up on the snowiest day of the year and am thrilled with the results. I did not have all of the ingredients, so here are my modifications: Did not use file powder. I don't think it's needed as the soup is just the right consistency in my opinion. No allspice, so increased the amount of cumin and added garam masala as first reviewer did. Added a little bit of dried ginger (sorry, i didn't measure). No Kale on hand - used frozen spinach instead, with great results. I used a little more butter than what was called for and once soup was done and had cooled ever so slightly, I added some nonfat sour cream which I think made it extra delightful! I normally don't use salt when cooking anyway, but did add some garlic salt at the end as I am a garlic lover. I also used dried cilantro as I didn't have fresh. Play around with this one; it's very versatile! Thank you for the recipe! - 14 Feb 2007 (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)