Greater than the sum of its simple parts, this vegan-friendly, kid-friendly, quick as a flash to make soup may well become a staple for your midweek dinner or weekend lunch.
I use red lentils as they're quick to prepare for starters: no soaking, and they cook in just 10 minutes making them a favourite with many of our customers. Another factor in their popularity is flavour - they're milder and sweeter than other varieties of lentils, making them suitable to a broader palate.
The addition of garlic, turmeric and ginger makes this a practically weaponised bowl of goodness as we head into the colder months, while the lemon and gremolata give it an unexpected twist and a fresh, light sparkle for your taste buds.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, roughly diced
1 carrot, roughly diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1cm piece ginger, minced/grated
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
1 pinch cayenne pepper optional
1 ¼ cups dried red lentils, rinsed under cold tap water
4 cups water
2 tsp veg stock powder
Squeeze of lemon
Salt and pepper
zest of 1 lemon
½ bunch parsley, roughly torn
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp greek yoghurt or coconut yoghurt and 4 lemon wedges to serve.
A slice of crusty fresh bread.
Heat a good sized saucepan or casserole pot on medium heat. Add olive oil, chopped onion, carrot and celery. Stir while cooking for 5 mins. ( We want the veg to soften and become transparent rather than brown, so turn heat down to med-low if necessary).
Add ginger, garlic and spices, saute for 1 min. Add water, stock powder and lentils, bring to a slow boil, then turn down heat, cover with lid and simmer for 10-12 mins.
Add the juice of 1 lemon. Season with salt and pepper. Taste your soup - you want to make sure the lentils are soft. If they need a little longer, cover and let them simmer for a further 5 mins.
At this stage, if you prefer it chunky and rustic, your soup is ready! Or you can blend it with a stick blender till smooth. (I like to blend it, but not all the way, so I keep a bit of texture).
Ladle into bowls, and serve with a spoonful of gremolata and crunchy fresh bread.
You can make this 5 minute yumminess while the soup is cooking.
Place the parsley, lemon zest, garlic and salt in a small food processor and blitz for 10-20 seconds. Or, you can do it by hand by finely chopping the parsley, mincing the garlic and adding these to finely grated lemon zest with a pinch of salt.
PIMP MY RECIPE
No time for gremolata? Serve this soup with a sprinkle of chopped parsley and a wedge of lemon.
Lemon myrtle works beautifully in this. Don't omit the lemon from the recipe though - just add a pinch or 2 of lemon myrtle with the other spices.
Sumac is a spectacular pairing with this dish, with its sharp, lemonyness. Instead of gremolata, try garnishing with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt then a sprinkle of sumac on the gremolata.
Cooking Red Lentils:
Check the lentils for any small rocks. Wash your lentils by giving them a quick rinse under the cold tap. Then pop them into a saucepan and add cold tap water - the general rule is 1 part lentils to 3 parts water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 7-12 mins. Most of the water will have been absorbed in 7 minutes and this will leave the lentils with a little firmness in the centre, while over 10 minutes will deliver soft and creamy lentils.