Spicy lentil soup

I got back from the heat of Cairo into winter edging its way through the cape. The most exciting thing about the cold is that we have an excuse to light our fire, which is a novelty for us Durbanites, where the year is marked by varying degrees of heat. I do love Durban’s climate and have never had a sweaty problem with the humidity. I love the soupy air and slowness it requires. But there is something really exciting about a fire. So Dean made a soup of another kind.

As you know, I read recipes as food porn, but Dean actually likes to cook from them. This recipe was adapted from a recipe in an Australian Women’s Weekly recipe book. If you are looking for cheap vegetarian cook books that use available vegetables, I would recommend looking out for these (you can get them at Exclusive Books). You can also search their database online. Ingredients:

  • 1kg of tomatoes
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bunch of dhanya (coriander) / flat leaf parseley
  • 100g of red lentils
  • 1 heaped tspn jeera powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp dhanya powder
  • 4 Tsp chilli / sambal oelek
  • 1 packet of tomato puree
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 750ml veg stock
  • Yogurt and dhanya to garnish

Boil water and cover the tomatoes with hot water to loosen the skins. Cut out the part of the tomato that attaches to the stalk (what is this called?) and chop coarsely. Water your plants with the leftover water once it has cooled. While the tomatoes are soaking, cut the onions, crush the garlic, wash and chop the dhanya (keep about 1/4 of the bunch aside for garnish) and rinse the lentils.

Put the onions, garlic, spices and chilli into a pot with a generous smattering of olive oil. The recipe only called for a tiny pinch of spices, so we improvised with a range of tastes to give it more bite and flavour. The recipe also calls for sambal oelek, but we used some crushed chilli relish we had in the fridge – much tastier and spicier. Cook on a low heat so the onions soften and go glassy and the spices don’t burn. Once the onions are soft, mix through the tomato paste, and add the tomatoes, sugar, stock, lentils and 3/4 of the bunch of dhanya. Leave to cook on a medium heat for what felt like ages, but was probably only 30mins or so. The soup should reduce and the lentils soften.

Once it is cooked, serve with a dollop of plain yoghurt. We like getting the full or double cream Greek yoghurt. The low fat and fat free are just too watery and tasteless and suffer from a similar con as that of milk (I may have mentioned this before, but low fat milk is 2% fat while full cream is 4% – not a major fat difference, but a major taste difference. And an excellent marketing con).

Add some dhanya and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with something delicious to dip. We made cheesy pitas, but you could also make savoury muffins.

Vegan version: serve without the yoghurt – the dhanya as a garnish will suffice.

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2 Responses to Spicy lentil soup

  1. rose says:

    it was DELISH!

  2. astrid says:

    add a grated carrot or 2 – it goes surprisingly well and adds vitamins!

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