As I write this post I'm snug in a fluffy jumper, rain is drizzling out my window and the sky is a sad shade of grey- the perfect conditions for enjoying this warm and vibrant bright orange soup.
Lentil soup is simple to throw together, quick to cook, and equally hearty and healthy - it's the perfect dish when the weather is cooler and you're after something deeply nourishing. Lentils are a nutritious additional to the diet and if they're not currently making an appearance on the menu I'd recommend introducing them, with a classic lentil soup recipe being a good place to start. Lentils are a part of legume family (which also includes peas, beans, soybeans and tamrind), and are high in plant-based protein, making them great for vegans and vegetarians, as well as being a good source of dietary fibre, and vitamins and minerals, including iron and folate. They're a ridiculously cheap addition to the grocery basket, and are an inexpensive way to bulk up dishes and feed a family, especially on a budget - they can really stretch a dish.
From a culinary perspective they take on flavours well and are extremely versatile ingredient in the kitchen. They're particularly useful at bumping up soups, stews, salads, pasta sauces and curries, and their protein and fiber content makes them a wonderful addition to vegan/vegetarian dishes to help make them nutritionally balanced. There's a few different types of lentils you can buy (brown, green, red), but I've opted to use the milder and slightly nutty red lentil here, as it tends to get mushy when cooked and so is great for thickening up soups.
To take this dish up a notch I added a tin of coconut milk, which adds a beautiful creamy flavour and texture. Seriously delicious!
Red Lentil and Coconut Soup
1 tbsp oil
1 brown onion
1-2 ribs of celery
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground corainder
1/2 tsp paprika
1 litre of vegetable stock
1 cup of water
1 tin of crushed tomatoes
1 cup dried red lentils
1 tin of coconut milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup parsley
Small bunch of cavolo nero/silverbeet
1. Peel and slice onion into half-moons. Slice carrot and celery in small bite-sized pieces - I often slice carrot into coins and then half each coin.
2. Heat oil in a large soup pot and then saute onions until soft and clear.
3. Add the carrot and celery, along with the coriander, cumin and paprika, and saute for a few minutes.
4. In a sieve rinse the lentils until cold running water until the water runs clear. Add the vegetable stock, water, tin of tomato and lentils. Mix well. Turn up the heat until the soup is boiling, and then reduce the soup to a simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
5. Add the tin of coconut milk and the salt, and mix well.
6. Finely slice the parsley and cavolo nero and add to the soup pot. Mix together.
7. Enjoy! Top with a little swirl of coconut milk or plain yoghurt (skip yoghurt if vegan) and garnish with coriander or parsley. When refrigerated this soup will get a little stiff, so just reheat to loosen up or feel free to add a little extra liquid.
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