Living in Egypt, lentil soup is a dish that I often see on the menu.
Looking for a recipe to prepare it myself, I found several online and I got creative, mixing this with that.
20 minutes later, the soup was ready to be served and it was so good that in the next few weeks, I tried it several more times, getting even more creative using different vegetables.
I found out that pretty much anything goes, as long as you don’t mess with the main ingredient: cumin.
Cumin mixed with black pepper (or chili for a spicier version) is the secret to the very particular fragrance that will forever remind me of the land of the Pharaohs.
So here goes, my simple version of a beautiful (vegan) lentil soup.
Ingredient to serve 4
- 3 teaspoons of cumin seeds (or cumin powder)
- a generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper (or chili powder/flakes)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 500 grams of carrots, washed and chopped (no need to peel)
- 250 grams of split red lentils
- 125 ml of milk or coconut milk for vegan option
- 1 liter of (near boiling) water
- vegetable stock (from a cube or powder)
- naan bread (optional)
1. Get the water boiling.
2. In the meantime, heat a saucepan to dry-fry the cumin seeds and black pepper/chili for about one minute or until they start to jump around the pan and release their aromas.
3. Scoop about half of the seeds out of the pan with a spoon and set aside. If cumin seeds are not available, cumin powder works as well but then no dry-frying is needed. Just keep half of the spices aside.
4. Add the oil, carrot and lentils to the saucepan with half of the spices and quickly stir-fry on high fire for about 30 seconds.
5. Add the stock cube/powder, the hot water and the (coconut) milk and bring to the boil.
6. Lower the fire, cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes or until the lentils have swollen and softened and the carrots are well-cooked. For a thicker soup, simmer a little longer.
7. Blend the soup with a stick blender or in a food processor until it’s as smooth as desired.
8. Season with (sea)salt and black pepper to taste and finish by sprinkling the reserved (toasted) spices on top of each bowl. Serve with warm naan breads (or not, if you want to keep it gluten free).
For a lighter alternative, leave out the (coconut) milk and add extra water and stock.
Get creative and replace the carrots with pumpkin, sweet potato, yam or any combination of sweet root vegetables when in season, making sure you adjust the simmer time in order to get the vegetables cooked long enough to blend.
Belhana wel shefa!
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Yaisa Nio
Editor: Renee Picard
Photo: Wikimedia Commons