Last weekend marked the start of Autumn. Cold, dreary and wet. Perfect weather for a warming bowl of soup. This spiced lentil soup is a cooler weather favourite in our house. Lovely and fresh. Inspired by the big, bold flavours of Moroccan cuisine. We haven’t eaten this soup in months. That’s what I love about this time of year. Changing seasons. Changing menus. What’s old is suddenly interesting and new.
The most flavourful tomatoes are in abundant supply at this time of year. For a gorgeous textural effect I like to cook the lentils until they disintegrate into a thick, gloopy mess. To finish? I simply stir through the ripest and juiciest tomatoes I can find. Peeled and roughly diced. Until just warmed through. Topped with a tangle of fresh herbs and greens, a generous dollop of thick Greek yoghurt and sprinkling of za’atar. Delicious Autumn flavours. In a bowl of soup.
Spiced Red Lentil Soup with Lemon and Fresh Herbs.
100 ml Olive oil
2 small sticks celery
1 leek, white part only
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 birds eye chilli
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 cup split red lentils
2 litres stock, chicken or vegetable
1 lemon and rind
6 fresh tomatoes
½ bunch mint, washed and roughly chopped
2 large handfuls spinach leaves, washed and roughly chopped
½ bunch basil, washed and roughly chopped
thick Greek style yoghurt
PULSE leek, celery, carrots, chilli and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped.
HEAT a large heavy based saucepan on medium-high. Add olive oil and sauté processed vegetables with a generous pinch of sea salt for five or so minutes until soft and translucent.
ADD curry powder, cumin, paprika and a good grinding of pepper. Sauté for another three or so minutes until fragrant.
ADD lentils. Turn down heat to medium and sweat for about 5 minutes until lentils have softened a little.
ADD stock and the peeled rind of one lemon. Bring to a slow boil. Turn down heat to low and simmer for about 30 mins until lentils are tender and beginning to disintegrate.
MEANWHILE place tomatoes into a large bowl and pour in enough boiling water from a kettle to cover. After 5 minutes, drain and peel the tomatoes. The skin should come away easily. Chop the tomatoes into a rough dice.
REMOVE the lemon rind and add the diced tomatoes to the soup. Bring to a bare simmer.
SEASON with lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
LADLE soup into bowls and top with herbs and spinach leaves. Serve with a generous dollop of yoghurt and a sprinkling of za’atar.