Nutri Natters

Rita’s blog for lovers of real food

Warming lentil soup to cheer you up on cold days

21st January 2010

If you’re on a tight budget  – students, take note – lentils make a filling meal and are a good source of vegetable protein. There are many types of lentils from the posh Puy and beluga lentils to the supermarket staple, red lentils.  A bag of red lentils costs about £1 and will be a  versatile addition to your store cupboard.  This recipe for lentil soup is very easy to make and uses other inexpensive and healthy ingredients, including turmeric and ginger, known for their anti-inflammatory properties.

If pulses make you “windy”, rinse them well; the addition of the lemon juice and tomato helps to makes them more digestible. Or you can add a piece of kombu, a dried seaweed that you’ll find in health food shops. Cut off a piece about 2.5cm/1 inch long and cook with the lentils. It can be mixed in and eaten as part of the dish to give added minerals, including iodine, essential for thyroid function. Asfoetida is a spice used in India to aid the breakdown of beans and lentils; find it in the spice section in supermarkets.  Add one to two teaspoons with the other spices to aid digestion. 

What could be more welcome as the days grow colder than a bowl of warming soup? Make a big pan of it to provide several meals or snacks; it freezes well, too.


Lentil soup- the ideal cold-weather dish

 Lentil Soup (Serves 4)
30ml/ 1 tbsp olive oil or 1 tbsp coconut oil
2 red onions
2.5cm/ 1” piece of root ginger peeled and finely chopped or grated
2 carrots, chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
200g/ 7oz red lentils, rinsed well
5ml/ 1 tsp ground turmeric
20g/ ¾oz fresh coriander or parsley, finely chopped
2 pints/1 litre of vegetable stock  saved from cooking vegetables, or a stock cube e.g. Marigold, Kallo
1 tbsp of tomato puree
freshly ground black pepper and a good squeeze of lemon juice

Tip: Don’t forget to add seaweed or asfoetida to make pulses more digestible (see introductory paragraph above)

Preparation: Gently heat the oil in a large pan and add the onions. Cook for 3 minutes or until the onions have softened but not browned, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots, fresh herbs , celery and the turmeric and cook gently for another 2 minutes.
Add the lentils and grated ginger.
Pour in the stock, add the tomato puree, and stir. Bring to the boil, stir, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and mushy.
Add the garlic. Liquidise the soup, season, add the lemon juice and serve.
In the unlikely event that there is any left over, this soup will keep in the fridge for 3 days.

Variation: Add less liquid to make a thick lentil stew, which is good with a jacket potato and green salad or brown rice and steamed courgettes. This is the all-time favourite meal in one student house I know.