Today my friend I’m going to share with you the fondness I have for a very special food group (yes it’s special enough to have it’s very own group of homies). That of the humble soup. The poor soup is so often underrated. Rudely relegated to the position of ‘starter’ or ‘diet food’. It may pass the test for acceptable lunch options, yet rarely makes it to the prime position of the day – the main meal (although I firmly believe that breakfast is the king of meals, yet that discussion is for another day otherwise we’ll be here for houuuuurrrrrs). I’m calling for a revolt. Are you with me? To put the wonder that is soup in its deserved place. Where it is appreciated for its diversity, its relative nutritional properties and its applicability to every season. Soup is not solely a winter meal. Why, ’tis a bowl of goodness to be savored year-round.
Now of course there are many forms of soup. But in my book the absolute best are those filled with vegetables, herbs and spices. Perhaps some lentils, or beans, or even a poached egg. Soups that pack a punch of flavour, fill the belly and leave you feeling none the worse for it. For the latter reason potato and leek soup aint my thing. Chicken noodle? No thank you. Unfortunately they don’t tick most of the food groups. You’d think that wouldn’t leave you with many options. Not so. Already we’ve seen seven different vegetable soups around these parts – blended, chunky, hearty, light and refreshing – there’s something for everyone. And there’s more to come! I bet you can’t wait. More rambling about why soup is God’s gift. If you leave now, please do so quietly. I’ll try to understand. You see, I’ve been a wee bit obsessed with them lately. There’s been at least three different soups grace my stomach in the last two weeks. Well suited to lunches or dinners for busy days, you can spend a few hours in the kitchen on a Sunday night and have nutritious, tasty, filling meals (but not too filling, an important characteristic for summer meals when the tum-tum doesn’t crave quite so hearty fare) prepared for the whole week! Many are easily frozen for a few months, providing handy emergency nosh for those times when you couldn’t give a fig about cooking. C’mon admit it, they do happen.
And as refreshing as soups can be, you can’t go past the comfort factor. Like being reunited with someone you haven’t seen in a while, sitting down to a decent bowl of soup will slowly but surely prompt a warm fuzzy feeling to take over your body until everything feels just right. It’s got that homely factor down to a tee. And to add to the warm fuzzies, you can’t help but feel saint-like after consuming a bowl of soup, filled with goodness as it is. This Spiced Lentil and Vegetable Soup is no let down – it ticks all the right boxes. Most certainly a wintery soup, the spices successfully defrost even the coldest of fingers and toes (one would know after almost freezing vital parts off in a Tasmanian coastal traverse), yet also a fitting lazy-summer-night-dish, it’s so dang versatile that you really must add it to your list!
Spiced Lentil & Vegetable Soup
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
100g celery, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp fennel seeds
8 cardomom pods
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Small pinch crushed chillis
1 litre vegetable stock
2 bay leaf
1 cup green lentils, rinsed
450g Japanese pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
1 large zucchini, quartered lengthways and thinly sliced into small triangles
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 medium head of broccoli, cut into small florets
1 medium carrot, cut in 1cm dice
1 tbsp chopped mint
Salt and pepper to season
250g plain yoghurt
1 tbsp mint, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ tsp ground paprika
Place a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil, when shimmering reduce the heat, add the onion and celery and cook for 5 minutes or until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Now add the curry powder, cumin, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon and chilli and cook stirring for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.
Pour over the stock, pop in the bay leaves, lentils and pumpkin. Stir well, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes or until the lentils are soft and the pumpkin is just tender.
Throw in the zucchini, tinned tomatoes, broccoli and carrot. Then add 500ml water, bring back to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Remove from the heat and stir through the chopped mint. Meanwhile, whisk the yoghurt, mint, garlic and paprika in a bowl until smooth. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with a dollop of yoghurt.
Will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Can be frozen for up to two months.
Source: A Taste Without Waste original.