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Spiced Lentil Soup
Spiced Lentil Soup
John Whaite
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(120 rated)
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This recipe feels as though it's doing you some good. The different spices each have their own unique healing properties. Turmeric helps reduce inflammation; cumin seeds aid digestion and mustard seeds are full of vitamins. And because it's essentially a thick lentil soup, it's naturally a comforting dish.

Technique tip: Keep the heat gentle when you add the onions to the spice oil to ensure they don't burn.

Swap option: If you can't find roti bread, use any kind you prefer. Also, it's not traditional, but some crispy bacon sprinkled on top of this soup is just awesome.


    • 7/8 cup dry red split lentils
    • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
    • 2 cups vegetable stock or water
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
    • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
    • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 10 curry leaves (fresh are best, but dried will do)
    • 1 Serrano chile, finely chopped
    • 1 small onion, finely chopped
    • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
    • 1 large plum tomato, roughly chopped
    • Fine sea salt
    • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro, to garnish
    • Roti bread, to serve


1. Put the lentils into a colander and run under cold water until the water draining from the lentils runs clear. Drain the lentils and add them to a saucepot or Dutch oven with the turmeric and stock (or water) and bring to the boil. Once the liquid is boiling, reduce the heat to a brisk simmer, and cook for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are very tender. Turn off the heat and leave the lentils for a good 15 minutes to plump up even more.

2. Put the vegetable oil and butter into a frying pan over a high heat. As soon the butter melts add the mustard and cumin seeds, along with the bay leaf and curry leaves. Fry for a few minutes, until the spices smell strongly aromatic, then add the chile and onion. Reduce the heat to medium and fry, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and just lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and tomato and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook until the tomato breaks down. Once the oil has risen to the surface, the spice paste is ready.

3. Mash up the lentils and then add the spice mixture. Return to the heat to warm through, season to taste, and serve with the chopped cilantro and bread.

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