Red lentil soup with curry roasted cauliflower topping

I know… I’m bad, bad, bad. I don’t bake anymore. I haven’t baked in months. I just don’t have time… I need to make time. I am going to make time. Don’t go just yet, I will bake again! Now, what’s that for a New Year’s resolution?

After all the food in the Christmas and New Year festive season, we are trying to be good and eat healthy food. We’re nowhere close to a proper detox (I had a glass of wine no later than last night), but we’re not eating meat and have loads of soups. But, as you may know if you’re trying to be healthy too, soups can quickly become boring. I mean, I love a bowl of stilton & broccoli soup; peas & ham; carrot & coriander; etc. but.. you know… after a while I need something a little more tasty, with a little more “hoompf” like they say on telly.

Yesterday I was therefore looking for a tasty-looking but healthy soup to make. And I came across a recipe of red lentil lemon soup by chefmo73 at http://mobitesfood.com/ Red lentils, cumin, chili, now that’s what I’m talking about! It became obvious that this was going to be last night’s dinner.

I was also looking for something else to serve along the soup (notably because we have 2 boys at home and a big chocolate stash; and if I want the latter to survive the night, I need to ensure the boys are full). And this is when I came across a second gem: So Hungry I Could Blog‘s recipe for curry roasted cauliflower.

I put the two recipes together, and this is how this red lentil soup with curry roasted cauliflower topping was born. Tadam! This is truly the perfect January dinner: tasty, warm and hearty, no meat (well, if you don’t count in the chicken stock), cheap ingredients, incredibly easy.

Red lentil soup

Here’s how to proceed.

Curry roasted cauliflower topping (serves 4)

  • 1 cauliflower cut into bite-size florets
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp of lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp of curry powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 1/2 tsp of turmeric
  • salt and black pepper

In a bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon zest, crushed garlic, spices, salt and pepper. Add the cauliflower florets and toss so that it os well-coated in the curry mixture. Spread the florets on a baking dish and roast at 375c (gas mark 5) for about 1 hour (or when the cauliflower have crisped up and the smell in your house is to die for). Reserve on kitchen paper to drain any remaining oil.

Curry roasted cauliflowers

Spicy red lentil soup (serves 4-5)

  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 white onion, chopped roughly
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of black pepper
  • Ground chili powder to taste
  • 1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of red lentils (I did half red lentils and half green lentils, only because I didn’t have enough red lentils. It was still delicious, but I’m guessing the colour wasn’t as attractive as 100% red lentils would have been.)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced roughly
  • The juice of 1/2 lemon

In a stock pot, heat the olive oil and cook the onion and garlic until soft and golden. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, salt, pepper and chili powder and sauté for 2 minutes longer.

Add the stock with an extra 2 cups of water, the lentils and the chopped carrots. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium-low and simmer until the lentils are soft (about 40 minutes). Taste and adjust seasoning.

Using an immersion blender, partly purée the soup: you want the lentils to be smooth, but to keep some chunks of carrots. Stir in the lemon juice.

Serve the soup drizzled with a little olive oil and topped with the curry roasted cauliflower. I guarantee that if you make that soup once, you will be making it again.

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Tomato and roasted pepper soup

Tomato soup is my ultimate comfort food. When people want chicken soup on off-days, all I wish for is go home, get in my PJs, put thick socks on, and sip hot tomato soup straight from the cup. Not the sexiest of images but we all have our moments of weakness.

Now, I spend hours ranting about processed food and how sad it is that people would rather open a packet than make their own meals… but when it comes to tomato soup, I must admit that (Heinz!) tinned tomato soup does things to me that I didn’t even know were possible. It’s just so smooth, sweet, round, it really is like a cuddle in a tin and no homemade soup could compete. Or so I thought until I had a little soup chat with sexycuisine and he shared his secret to make homemade tomato soup just as sweet as tinned soup: ketchup! Ah, sometimes the answer is so obvious that you can’t think of it, or is it just me?

Anyway, taking his advice on board, I waited for a rainy day – which fortunately are not too rare in the UK – and made my own ‘tinned’ soup. Turned out great, I will definitely make it again.

[Excuse the bad pictures, I guess I was a little bit too excited about eating the soup when I took them.]

Tomato soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 white onion diced
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 red peppers, halved and deseeded
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp of ketchup
  • feta cheese, to sprinkle on top

Sprinkle your peppers with a little bit of oliver and place under the grill, skin up. Leave until the skin blisters and turns black (10 min). Remove from the oven, cover with cling film and leave to cool.

In the meantime, make a sort of ‘tomato fondant’ base for your soup, frying the onion in olive oil until translucent. Add the fresh tomatoes and cook until soft and reduced, then add 1 tin of chopped tomatoes and 2 tbsp of ketchup.

Remove the skin of your peppers, chop roughly and add to the soup. Cover with 1 litre of vegetable stock and bring to the boil.

After 10 minutes, reduce to a simmer and leave to cook for another 10 minutes. Blend until smooth and season to taste, and it’s ready!

Serve the soup with a handful of crumbled feta cheese on top and bread on the side. Sprinkle with smoked paprika and pepper if you like it with a kick.

Tomato soup2