Soup is always good this time of year (Autumn). I like soups that focus on one or two flavours. This is a recipe that brings the red peppers to the front with a hint of paprika following. You don’t have to peel the peppers, I just do because it adds another subtle level. This is not a blended soup. It will happily sit on a low heat bubbling away working everyones appetite with its permeating aromas. This recipe feeds about four people.
1 onion, peeled and chopped as small and even as you can
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
300g red peppers – thats about two large ones, peeled (optional see side dishes) and chopped in small cubes
150g puy lentils (they are the really small ones, you can use the slightly larger ones, I normally soak them for at least one hour, it doesn’t really matter if you don’t though)
10 grams of paprika
1 litre of stock (from a cube or powder)
1 apple peeled and grated
Salt and pepper
Cover the bottom of your pan with olive oil and fry off the onions. Add the garlic when the onions start to brown, then the chopped peppers (hold a little bit back for the garnish). Cook this down for five minutes, add the paprika, then the stock.
When this is bubbling happily, slide in the lentils. Keep the soup boiling, add the grated apple then turn down to a simmer. Keep topping up the soup with warm stock or water from the kettle, so it stays a soup like consistency. After 45 minutes, taste the lentils, if they are soft, turn off the soup, leave for half an hour then taste for seasoning. Sometimes the lentils go a little bit hard, not sure why yet, but just cook it a bit more until they soften.
When you are ready re-heat and serve.
To garnish like the bowl in the photo, I took some of the red pepper that I held back and cut as small as possible, chopped one spring onion and half a chilli.
Here’s the thing; if you put 250ml of double cream into cauliflower soup, like every other recipe I have read, then for sure you will have a rich and scrumptious soup. That soup will also be intensely calorific. This is a lighter soup relying on the cauliflower being cooked properly and not stewed. This alongside the addition of the mustard which adds some depth and a small amount of zero yoghurt finished off with a scratch of parmesan on the croutons (which can be left out if you wish) gives it depth and richness with out the fat content.
1 large white onion
1 small to medium cauliflower (450g)
2 cloves of garlic
1 litre of stock (either homemade or from an organic stock cube)
1 tspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
Spelt bread (or any old bread you have in the house)
Roughly chop your onion and cauliflower keeping them seperate. Take a good pan and cover the bottom with the oil, place onto a mid heat and sweat off the onions. Try not to brown them as this will colour the soup the wrong way, you want it as light as possible. Add the garlic and cauliflower, keep stirring for 5 mins then cover with stock. Let this cook out for about half an hour.
Meanwhile prepare the croutons. Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Cut the bread into small squares, toss with some oil. Put on to a baking tray lined with paper. You only need enough for about 8 squares in each bowl. Toast off in the oven when they are ready take out and scratch some parmesan over them. Put back in for another minute. Put to one side until the soup is ready.
Take a stick blender, a magi-mix or a smoothie maker, and blend the soup until really smooth. Add the mustard and blend some more. If it is a little bit too thick, alter the consistency with some more of the stock. Knock down the yoghurt with just a little water so it is more of a pouring consistency.
To serve; Pour into a bowl, place a big pinch of croutons in the middle, then draw a circle of yoghurt around the croutons for a nice cheffy finish. Young thyme leaves or chives work well with with this soup sprinkled onto the croutons.
Red lentil soup is a soup rooted in Middle-Eastern cuisine particularly Lebanon and Israel. It is a solid source of protein and dietary fibre, as well as being tasty and economical. This ‘half an hour soup’ could easily be made the day before and kept covered in the fridge. I have kept it close to its roots taking it to another level with a feta, yogurt and herb mix. This works well if you are trying to eat a small lunch as it will keep you going until the evening.
Ingredients (serves 4)
500g red lentils
60 ml sunflower oil (4 tablespoons)
4 litres of vegetable stock (good stock powder is fine)
1 small tin of chopped tomatoes
2 medium sized onions
4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of cumin powder
1 teaspoon of coriander powder
1 teaspoon of ginger powder
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 fresh red chili or a pinch of cayenne pepperFor the garnish
1 small pot of natural yogurt (120g)
100g Greek feta cheese
1 spring onion or shallot, finely chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
10 grams of fresh coriander
10 grams of fresh mint
Heat the oil, then add the chopped onions and pressed garlic. When the onions and garlic are soft add the spices, chili and black pepper, stir into a thick paste. Add the red lentils, then the stock and tomatoes. Stir together, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for a further 25 minutes. Turn off the heat.
With a stick blender or a food processor pulse the soup 8 or 9 times. Don’t blend until it’s a smooth soup, pulsing just brings it together. If you don’t have either accessories don’t worry it will still be good.
Season with a few drops of fresh lemon and sea salt
Put the yoghurt in a bowl, crumble in the feta, add the lemon zest, chopped mint and spring onion. Mix really well with a few drops of lemon.
Pour the soup into the bowl, add a generous spoon of the feta mix in the middle then the fresh coriander broken onto the yogurt-feta mix. I like to drizzle a few drops of olive oil on the top (optional).
Posted in Red Lentil Soup with Feta & Coriander, Savoury Dishes, Soups
Tagged cayenne pepper, coriander, cumin, feta, fibre, garlic, onions, red lentils, soup, stock, yogurt
I don’t often use the word ‘quick’ when referring to my recipes as I don’t normally focus on that kind of quick cooking, but from start to bowl this delicious soup takes 30 minutes – 20 of those were letting it cook. This is a typical lunchtime soup across Spain that you would find on any ‘menu del dia’ in cafes, bars or restaurants. I always put in a handful of something green at the end to cook in the soup – in this instance I used spinach because that’s all I could find in my local shop, but it can be any green vegetable – cut it so it fits into the rest of the soup. Make sure you allow for it’s correct cooking time eg. 1 minute for spinach, 5 minutes for peas, 7 minutes green beans. Always taste to be sure.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 medium sized onion
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 red pepper
1/2 sweet potato
1 tin of chick-peas
1 heaped tablespoon of paprika
1 litre of stock
You can also use any bits of vegetables that you have left in your fridge. The onion, carrot and garlic are important as the base. I had sweet potato and red pepper in my fridge to use up and it really worked. It will make for a better soup if you cut all the vegetables the same size.
Cut the vegetables into 1cm pieces. Open and rinse the chickpeas. Fry off the vegetables and garlic in olive oil. When they are looking a bit brown, add the paprika, stir well and then add the stock. When it comes to the boil turn the soup down. Cook for a further 15 minutes then add the chick-peas.
Cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off the soup, grind some black pepper into it, then add the spinach and parsley and leave with the lid on for a minute. Taste for seasoning and serve.
Posted in Quick-Fix Spanish Soup, Savoury Dishes, Soups
Tagged carrot, chickpeas, garlic, leek, onion, paprika, quick, red pepper, soup, spinach, stock, sweet potato, vegetables