Easy healthy food at its best: a simple healthy filling soup that is substantial enough to stand in for a full meal.
1 garlic clove, chopped finely
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked or hot paprika
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon dried oregano
100g orange lentils
200g tinned tomatoes with their juice
300ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Fry the garlic and red onion in the olive oil over a gentle heat in a large saucepan until fragrant but not coloured. Add the paprika, cumin, coriander seeds and dried oregano and fry for another minute.
2. Add the lentils, stir and fry for one minute.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the salt and pepper and stir. Cook for ten minutes. Check for seasoning and add a grinding of black pepper and a little salt if it needs it (the stock cube may be salty enough).
4. Cook until the lentils are soft (20-30 minutes) adding more water during the cooking if you find the mixture is getting too thick. When the lentils are collapsing, remove the bay leaf and adjust the seasoning to taste. Either serve the soup as it is or cool a little and whizz with a blender adding more water to get the consistency you like. Serve on its own with good bread to dip into it, or add a dollop of crème fraîche or yogurt and a sprinkling of toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds.
– You can use any tinned tomatoes for this but if you can buy the ones that contain little whole Pachino tomatoes. You find them in Italian delicatessens. You won’t be cooking the soup for long and those smaller tomatoes are sweeter and have more flavour and are more suited to a quick soup.
– Spice up this soup by adding a tablespoon of curry paste – fry it with the garlic clove and instead of using the olive oil, use the oil from the curry paste jar – and use 150ml of coconut milk and 150ml of stock instead of the chicken or vegetable stock. If you want to turn this soup into dhal, use less liquid so you end up with a thicker spiced lentil dish.
– Try any pulse in this soup: lentils, chickpeas, orange or yellow splits peas work too.
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