Curried Red Lentil and Chicken Soup

As much as I love me a whirl in the kitchen with fancy-schmancy culinary terms like "deglaze," "au gratin," and "carmelize," there's really nothing quite as satisfying as a good slow-cooker dinner made in the first 5 minutes of your day. You might be discouraged to read further if I told you I came up with this recipe after making a big batch, sans spices, for Mancub Number 5. Yup, reinvented baby food. :) He loved it, The Preacher loved it...we all loved it enough to eat it for dinner a few weeks ago. So, I played with the flavors a bit, and came up with what our family considers a winner. Let me know what you think if you try it! (My recipe is for a super large batch that feeds my family and dinner guests. You could easily cut this recipe in half to make it more manageable!)

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts 2 lbs. red lentils 3 1/2 quarts water or chicken broth 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste 2 tsp. black pepper 3 tsp. yellow curry powder 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder 1 tsp. onion powder 1/2 tsp. garam masala 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika 1/2 tsp. coriander 1/2 tsp. cumin 1 tablespoon lemon juice

To garnish:

plain yogurt parsley paprika olive oil

Combine all ingredients (excluding garnishes) in the order listed in a large slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours. With two forks, gently shred the chicken when fully cooked. The lentils should be mushy and easily pureed with a fork. Stir before serving.

Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt, and a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of paprika and parsley. Lightly pan-toasted flat bread is great for scooping up the thick soup! Enjoy.