Warmly spiced red lentil & tomato soup
Contending with three adolescent male appetites (and one little bird) for our prolonged period of intense family time, I’m seriously losing steam on the lunch front. This week kicked off with fish finger sandwiches. No, they were NOT home made, but they were on shiny soft brioche buns from the farmers market (all the Bougie points here). Tuesday followed on with tortellini. Also not home made. By Thursday the temperature had dropped again, we were further locked in with torrential rain and I was crying out for soup (an option usually rejected by the masses here unless its chicken).
Finding myself with both a glut of red lentils and a desire to be anywhere but here, I embarked on my journey of cooking my way out of a crisis and simultaneously using up surplus ingredients lurking around the place. Cue an old comforting favourite – a warmly spiced lentil soup with cumin and Aleppo pepper, taking me back to sunnier days in the spice markets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Loosely based on a traditional Middle Eastern staple (usually made with red or brown lentils), I added the lonely sweet potato hanging around in the bottom of the basket for a little extra sweetness and threw in a couple of tins of tomatoes to hopefully make it more palatable for the lentil soup haters here.
I sold these steaming bowls of velvety burnt orange deliciousness as cream of tomato soup. And the lentil haters lapped it up with toasted cheese sandwiches (Bouchon Bakery style) as I stood in the corner smugly smiling to myself. It’s all about the small wins.
A few notes: The sweet potato in this soup was a happy accident because I had one hanging around and I love the texture it added to the soup when it was all blended together, but I have made this many times without and its still absolutely delicious. Same goes for the leek – great if you have one but if you don’t please do not let it deter you. Throw in what you’ve got.
If I was not selling this as cream of tomato soup, I would be tempted to add some wilted buttered spinach after blitzing and just before serving for colour and added interest.
The squeeze of lemon at the end just before serving it CRUCIAL and a complete flavour game changer here. It pulls the whole dish together and really should not under any circumstances be left out……
*Recipe by Hannah from Building Feasts.
Check for seasoning and ladle into soup bowls. Squeeze over the juice from a good wedge of lemon before devouring and calming all your winter lockdown blues.