If you’re not a fan of cumin, I think you can stop reading right here, as this soup is all about C U M I N. I would make the soup for the smell of it alone, and maybe that was one of the reasons I made it twice in a row last week (and was therefore eating it over the course of four days!). Every time I had another bowl, I got this beautiful, warm feeling inside and was ready to hit wind, rain and whatever was flying around outside. Thankfully, I had three other happy eaters (and cumin-lovers…phew!) to help me. They’re my friends for a good reason.
If you’ve been eating/cooking/reading/following my way of eating somehow, you might know that I like to keep things simple in the kitchen. This unpretentious and rustic soup is no exception, yet still makes – in my humble opinion – for a sophisticated meal when elevated by lemon, Italian parsley, roasted almonds and a drizzle of good quality olive oil. If you think I’m on the wrong track, please let me know. 😉
The slightly sweet and nutty red lentils break down while cooking, resulting in a thick, stew-like consistency. This is how I like to eat soup, however, if you think otherwise, just add some more water than indicated. The soup is on the table in 40 minutes and is, with only 10 minutes prepping time, in fact cooking itself which makes it absolutely everyday-cooking-friendly.
Notes: A few gratings of (organic) lemon zest might be really nice here as well, but I haven’t tried that out yet. Be careful with the salt in the end and taste before you add some; you might not even need to add any at all, depending on how salty your vegetable stock is. I made a fairly mild soup, but feel free to add more chilli or cayenne for more spice.
Red Lentil Soup with Cumin and Lemon
Preparation time: approx. 10 minutes
Hands-off cooking time: 30 minutes
250g red lentils, washed and drained (alternatively yellow lentils)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 white onion, finely minced
1 large carrot, chopped into little cubes
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground curcuma (turmeric)
pinch of chilli or cayenne powder
2 heaped tablespoons organic tomato puree
1.5 litres organic low salt vegetable stock
freshly squeezed juice of ½ lemon
lots of freshly ground black pepper
pinch of flaky sea salt
A handful of organic flat-leaf parsley, leaves roughly torn
Roasted almonds, roughly chopped
Some good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
Wash the lentils thoroughly under running cold water and set aside to drain.
Heat the olive oil in a big, thick-bottomed pot over medium heat. Fry the onion for 2-3 minutes, until translucent. Add the carrot cubes and continue frying for 2-3 minutes, until the cubes have softened a bit.
Now add the garlic, cumin, curcuma, chilli and tomato puree and sauté for another minute. This will fill the kitchen with a truly wonderful smell!
Add lentils and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Cover partly with a lid, turn down the heat to a low simmer and cook for 30 minutes, until the lentils have broken down, resulting in a thick, stew-like consistency. If you prefer a thinner soup, add another 200ml of water.
Squeeze in the lemon juice and carefully adjust with salt (depending on the saltiness of your vegetable stock). Stir in lots (!!!) of fresh black pepper and take the pot off heat. The soup should have a nice balance between spices, salt and lemon juice.
Divide over bowls and garnish with parsley, almonds, olive oil and some extra black pepper. I served it with some toasted buckwheat bread.