Curried lentil soup with aromatic oil

23 September 2011 § 6 Comments

Our second week back at school and we are back in the swing of things. My Thursday night supper club has started again. A group of friends get together with our kids to have dinner. We feed the  animals kids first then the grown-ups sit down and have a glass of wine and dinner.

If you can block out the noise of the under-5s wrecking the place, it is pretty civilized. I love that we get to have some good conversation and a glass of wine (yup I know I mentioned the wine already but it has been one of those weeks.)

It was my turn to host and I wanted to enjoy my friends’ company and not be fussing in the kitchen. So I made this curried lentil soup, the addition of spicy aromatic oil gives it an added burst of heat and flavor.

I’m a bit lazy about cooking with pulses as many need to be soaked overnight, and I’m rarely that organized. Good news for disorganized people (or people who have a few too many glasses of wine in the evening): lentils do not need pre-soaking, and only take about 15-20 minutes of cooking to soften.

Use green or dark lentils, such as puy or beluga as they hold their shape well. Oh and don’t use the orange ones as they go mushy.

Here’s the recipe for a healthy, economical vegan dish. I am not a vegan, but feel good when I have a few meat-free days.

Ingredients – for 4 to 6

  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 tbs olive oil (or a generous glug – you don’t need to measure olive oil)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 small potatoes peeled and diced- about 1″ each
  • 1 tbs crushed cumin seed
  • 1 tbs curry powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock  (you can use chicken stock if you like)
  • 2 tbs tomato puree
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Wash and pick over the lentils. In a large skilled heat the olive oil, add the onions and garlic for a few minutes, until they are just beginning to brown. Add the carrots, potatoes, lentils, cumin, cayenne and curry powder. Cook for a few minutes more stirring so all the vegetables are coated in the spices. Then add the stock and the tomato puree. Stir, bring to the boil and then simmer gently until the lentils are soft – about 20-25 minutes.

Before serving stir in the lemon juice, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Drizzle with the aromatic oil (recipe below). Enjoy with crusty bread.

Aromatic oil

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp crushed black peppercorns
  • ½ tsp crushed cumin seed
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp curry powder, such as Madras

Warm the olive oil in a small skillet or pan over a medium-low heat. Add the spices and heat, stirring frequently. It should take about 2 minutes, the mixture should become aromatic and the spices toasted but not burned. Watch closely – this is not the time to make a phone call as it will be ruined if the oil burns.

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