Today I hung the washing out on the line OUTSIDE for the first time this year. This may not sound very exciting to you, but to me this signals a watershed moment every year. There is no turning back now, summer is just round the corner (ok – sort of). Of course I’m sure I could have hung it out plenty of times before, but today gave me no choice, the sun had laid a soft amber glow over the garden, there were vivid green shoots poking out of the dark mulch and our resident blackbird was finding rich pickings in our lawn. It was a beautiful scene and our colourful bundle of damp clothes deserved to have its time amongst it.
Going out I felt the sun on my face and remembered the joy in being outside all day (you may have guessed by now that I would definitely class myself as a summer person). But as the evening drew in and the air cooled, I was reminded that summer hasn’t quite arrived yet so I still hungered for something hearty and spicy that would heat me from my toes up.
And this is where this delicious soup makes its entrance! It really is a satisfying meal, either for a hearty lunch or with some good bread as a mid week dinner. The spices really blend and mellow as it simmers and the addition of lemon and coriander at the end lift it – adding a bright zinginess to the flavour. The lentils that I’ve used in this recipe are incredibly healthy and as far as I’m concerned are just as tasty. It’s a really brilliant thing to have in the freezer for when you have a last minute lunch visitor, I’ve pulled this on out a few times and been met with very happy faces so it has become one of my go to recipes. Today I took a few portions out before adding salt and gave my one year old a bowl for her lunch. Not only did she clean her plate but she also wanted more.
1 stick of celery
200g dried green lentils*
2 bay leaves
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
100 ml chicken stock (or vegetable if you’d prefer)
One tin of chopped tomatoes
Juice of half a lemon
Chopped fresh coriander
Greek or plain yoghurt
Finely dice the carrot, celery and onion.
Sweat the onions in a good glug of olive oil until soft. Add the turmeric, paprika and cumin and heat with the onions for a couple of minutes.
Add the lentils, carrot, celery and bay leaves to the pan and stir over a medium heat for a further couple of minutes.
Add the chicken stock and the tin of tomatoes. Half fill the tomato tin to get the last bits of tomato and add that to the pan.
Bring to a gentle simmer and continue to simmer for about an hour. Test after 40 minutes.
Once the lentils are cooked, take off the heat and add the juice of half a lemon and season with salt and pepper. Serve with a spoonful of yoghurt and some freshly chopped coriander.
*I used speckled lentils because that’s what my grocer stocks but you could easily substitute for puy lentils.