My favorite restaurant in all of the Triangle is Toast in downtown Durham. Fresh, inventive food that is both delicious and nutritious. I would love to try making their Spicy Lentil with Peppers soup. Any chance they would be willing to share the recipe?
Husband and wife owners, Billy and Kelli Cotter, were happy to share this recipe from their Italian sandwich shop in downtown Durham.
The spicy lentil and peppers soup has been on the menu at Toast since the restaurant opened in 2008 and is among its most popular soups. It doesn’t hurt that the soup is not only tasty but vegan and gluten free.
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Chef Billy Cotter created the soup to make a vegetarian version of a classic Italian lentil and sausage dish but used the Calabrian chiles to add some heat.
We found the pepperoncini piccanti at CapriFlavors, an Italian specialty store in Morrisville that is open seven days a week. (For store hours and location, call 919-462-9255 or go to capriflavors.com.)
The Cotters, who are alumni of the now-closed Magnolia Grill in Durham, are also co-owners of Dashi, a Japanese ramen shop in downtown Durham.
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345 W. Main St., Durham
Toast’s Spicy Lentil Soup
Recipe tester’s note: We found peperoncini piccanti tagliati, a Calabrian chile condiment, at CapriFlavors, an Italian specialty food market in Morrisville. The store is 1012 Morrisville Pkwy. Info: 919- 462-9255, capriflavors.com
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed, diced
1 large yellow bell pepper, seeds and stem removed, diced
1 tablespoon kosher salt, divided
1 pound autumn blend lentils or any type of lentils
7 cups water, or more if needed
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon (or 4-6 peppers) from a jar of pepperoncini piccanti tagliati
Warm olive oil over medium heat in a six-quart soup pot or Dutch oven. Add peppers and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook until soft, stirring occasionally so they do not burn, about 15 minutes.
Add lentils and water. Cover and cook over high heat until boiling. Turn down to low and simmer until lentils are tender, about 45 minutes. Start checking at 30 minutes and add water in 1/2 cup increments if needed.
Remove 1/2 cup soup to a food processor or blender. Add red wine vinegar, hot chile peppers and remaining salt. Puree until smooth and return to the soup pot.
Yield: 6-8 servings.