Spiced lentil soup
Now it’s the end of September, it certainly feels like autumn is here, there’s a chill in the air, there’s a scattering of fallen leaves on the pavements and the nights are drawing in earlier. This time of year makes me want to cook comforting and warming foods and on that theme, I decided to make some spiced lentil soup.
The recipe I used was adapted from food blogger Niamh Shield’s book ‘Comfort and Spice’.
This is a great book with a range of full-flavoured recipes which explore the use of different spices. The plentiful photographs give a colourful vibrancy to the book and add to the appeal of the recipes. There is a good mix of easy and dishes like ‘Halloumi and pomegranate salad’ and ‘Chicken and chorizo pie’, through to meals that need a bit more planning like ‘Slow-cooked pork cheeks in cider’ and ‘Overnight shoulder of pork with spiced apple relish’. I recently cooked this pork dish and it was amazing, the apple sauce was nice and pokey from the chilli. I’d definitely recommend trying it.
Back to the soup…some people don’t like lentils and I must admit that I didn’t used to be a fan. I have now definitely come round to appreciate their versatility in cooking and I enjoy them in soups, curries and salads.
Home-made soup ALWAYS tastes better than the supermarket ones, which can be pretty pricey for what often ends up being a bit lacking in flavour in my view. I have only found Yorkshire Provender soups to be worth the money in terms of taste. Making your own croutons is to be recommended too as you can experiment with flavours and it is a great way to use up stale bread.
Spiced lentil Soup with harissa croutons (Serves 2)
70g stale bread, roughly chopped into cubes
1 tablespoon harissa paste (I used shop bought, the book does include a homemade recipe)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil
Season with sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 fresh chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 x 400g tin of tomatoes
500ml vegetable stock
80g red lentils
Squeeze of lemon
Season to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 150°C.
Roughly chop the bread into chunks and toss in the harissa paste, cumin seeds and olive oil until evenly combined. Season.
Place the bread cubes onto a tray and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Put to one side until you are ready to use or store in a airtight container for another day.
Heat a dry pan and toast the cumin seeds for a minute until slightly browned, then grind to a powder using a mortar and pestle.
Gently heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes until soft and translucent.
Add the chilli, garlic and cumin and cook for another minute or so.
Add everything into your slow cooker, including the lentils, tomatoes and stock. Cook for 3-4 hours.
At this point I blended the soup with a hand blender to give the soup a smoother consistency. This is optional depending on your personal preference. If the soup is too thick then add a little water until it is how you like it.
Season and add the lemon juice. Serve straight away with a scattering of croutons.