Lush Lentil Soup

Lush Lentil Soup

Abundance.. green.. dense….  just a few synonyms for the word ‘lush’, and exactly why I chose it to describe this soup. Counter to its rather glamorous name, this soup came into existence under far more humble circumstances – more specifically during an attempt to tidy up my fridge the night before a big grocery delivery. Also, it was cooked mostly one-handed while holding a newborn, which, more than anything, is true testament to how effortless this recipe is. It’s real life though, isn’t it? Trying to cook a healthy meal with random fridge leftovers and no a plan whatsoever… refusing to give in to kids wanting porridge for dinner. And then when it somehow comes together and actually works. Then it’s glam! Fully deserving of a LUSH name.

Full of chunky vegetables and nourishing plant protein in the form of lentils and quinoa, this soup is ridiculously delicious and perfect for these still chill early spring evenings. I am also loving curry spice and have been adding it to just about everything of late …hummus, salad dressings, and a new quinoa salad I’ll be sharing soon. Because when I’m into something I just can’t help but totally overdo it! (…like a good song on repeat for weeks, you know what I mean). 

The soup calls for very simple ingredients, most of which you probably already have in your fridge & pantry… with the exception of white lentils (also known as urid daal). While you’ll easily find white lentils in asian/indian markets (or in my case amazon), they are not commonly seen on the shelves of conventional supermarkets. However, they can easily be subbed for yellow split peas or extra of whatever other lentil you’re using. I love cooking with white lentils though, as their firmer, almost rice-like, texture lends itself perfectly to soups. Everything else is very straight forward; saute the onion & garlic, add everything else but the kale and coriander and leave to simmer until soft, then add the greens and serve with a little fresh parmesan (or omit for a vegan option). And voila! It is especially delicious served with a chunk of fresh sourdough baguette.

Lush Lentil Soup

Lush Lentil Soup
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Recipe type: Main
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Serves: serves 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 tsp oil or butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3-4 carrots, sliced
  • ½ butternut squash, cubed (about 2 cups)
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • ¼ cup black or green lentils
  • ¼ cup quinoa
  • ¼ cup white lentils (yellow split peas work too)
  • 1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock (or more if needed)
  • 4 tsp curry powder (adjust if your curry powder is very strong)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 handful fresh coriander, chopped
  • 3 handfuls kale (I prefer cavolo nero), chopped
  • freshly grated parmesan to top (OPTIONAL)
Instructions
  1. Melt oil in a large pot and saute onion and garlic for about 5 mins until soft.
  2. Add spices, vegetable stock, lentils, quinoa, butternut squash, carrot and zucchini and stir to combine.
  3. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium heat and leave to simmer for 30-35 mins, stirring occasionally.
  4. Once the lentils are soft and the quinoa cooked, add coriander and kale and stir again until it starts to wilt.
  5. Add salt & pepper to taste and extra water if you prefer the soup thinner.
  6. Serve with a chunk of sourdough baguette and top with fresh parmesan.

 

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Moroccan Dream Stew + Mint Yogurt

Exotic Aubergine Stew + Mint Yogurt

I’m a sucker for nostalgia. And this plate takes me right back to our date week in Morocco last summer. At the time I was early pregnant and careful to only eat cooked foods. So naturally, I managed to eat my way through several vegetarian tagines. A traditional Moroccan dish, a tangine is a slow cooked savoury stew with incredible spices and lightly sweetened with dried fruits, such as dates, apricots and raisins. The best food we had on our trip was in fact in the middle of the dessert, prepared in a tent with no fancy equipment. I don’t know if it was the combination of sleeping in half open tents in the middle of the Saharan dessert in a camp consisting of a fireplace surrounded by colourful rugs and pillows in lieu of tables – but this particular tagine was so delicious, hearty and full of exotic yet humble charm. While I won’t try to pretend like I know how to cook a Moroccan style tagine (because I really don’t), I will say that the combination of spicy aubergine, sweet raisins and chickpeas are enough to remind me of that particular trip – and for me, that alone is enough to make me love this dish. And so, since its healthy and full of exotic flavours and colours on an otherwise grey english Winter day, I thought now would be the perfect time to channel my nostalgia and share my take on that Moroccan dream stew.

The creamy mint yogurt is my favourite topping for this dish. It is slightly sweet from the mint and honey and pairs so well with the spicy stew and fresh pomegranates. The other toppings mentioned in the recipe below can be chosen according to your personal preference. I like to serve it warm with a side of rice/quinoa and then for lunch the next day on a bed of kale or spinach. That said, it is super delicious on its own as well. And if you like really dig a spicy kick, a pinch of cayenne pepper is perfect!

Exotic Aubergine Stew + Mint Yogurt

Moroccan Dream Stew + Mint Yogurt
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Recipe type: Main
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Serves: Serves 4
Ingredients
Aubergine Stew
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • chunk fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 aubergine, cut into cubes
  • 1 medium (1 cup) sweet potato, cut into cubes (you can use carrots or butternut squash instead)
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 500 ml (2 cups) vegetable stock
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salt + pinch black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp tumeric
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
  • Handful (1/4 cup) raisins
  • 1 can chickpeas, washed and grained
  • 1 large handful kale, roughly chopped
  • small handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Mint Yogurt
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (I prefer full fat)
  • 4 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tsp honey
  • small pinch salt + pepper to taste
Toppings
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Almond slices
  • Raisins
  • Fresh coriander or mint
Instructions
  1. Melt oil in a large pot or dutch oven. Sauté onion, garlic and ginger over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until fragrant and soft.
  2. Add spices, aubergine and sweet potato pieces and stir to combine using a wooden spoon.
  3. Add tomato paste, canned tomatoes and vegetable stock and stir again. Leave to simmer for 30 minutes over low/medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  4. While the stew cooks, mix up the mint yogurt. Then set aside in the fridge.
  5. Add raisins, mint and balsamic vinegar and stir to combine before leaving for another 5 minutes.
  6. Finally add chickpeas, kale and coriander and season with more salt/pepper and spices to taste. Once the chickpeas are heated through and the kale starts to wilt, remove from the stove and serve with toppings of your choice.

Exotic Aubergine Stew + Mint Yogurt

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Chickpea Massaman Curry + Tom Yam Chilli

Chickpea Massaman Curry + Tom Yam Chilli

When talking sisters, mine is as cool as they come. She is currently here in London, spending the week with us and cooking up a storm in efforts to fill up my freezer before the baby makes his entrance into the world. She’s like a freakin’ tornado – and I love it!

Other than being completely awesome, my sister is also very well travelled. She’s been everywhere (almost), and once went and spent several months in Thailand working with an underwater conservation team. It was on this trip she also managed to befriend several of the kitchen ladies, who ended up teaching her how to cook some of her favourite Thai meals. And this Massaman curry is one of those. A dish that tastes so original, is perfect for entertaining and so tasty when made vegetarian. While my sister usually makes with either beef or chicken, she makes it with chickpeas when visiting us. And she even admits that it is every bit as delicious with chickpeas! It is great served on rice, quinoa or cauliflower rice and an added squeeze of fresh lime and a few cashew nuts to top. So good!

Chickpea Massaman Curry + Tom Yam Chilli

The homemade Tom Yam chilli paste is really the crown of this dish, but if the thought of making your own feels too intimidating or time consuming, it can be substituted for a storebought chilli paste. This one will last for up to 2 weeks in the fridge when kept in a glass jar (I collect old jam jars for these purposes) and it can be added to a multitude of curries, stews and other meals that go well with a fantastic kick of garlicky spice sensation. It is so good and while it can be added into the curry before serving, I like to keep it separate so people can decide how spicy they want it – and so my kids can eat it too.

This curry is dairy free, gluten free and full of healthy fats from the rich and dreamy creamy coconut milk. The chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) add a good amount of plan protein as well as fibre. Just 1 can (1 1/2 cup) contains around 17 gm fibre, which is over 50% of the recommended daily intake!! Fibre promotes a healthy digestive system, help prevent certain types of cancers and can be helpful for weight loss since it helps keep you full and satisfied for longer.

Chickpeas also contains a unique and amazing balance of antioxidants that are known to help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Research studies actually confirm that consuming chickpeas can help lower “bad” cholesterol and that just a small amount of chickpeas every day can help significantly improve cholesterol levels in the span of just one month! So, vegetarian or not, if you haven’t yet added chickpeas to your recipe repertoire, now would be a good time. And this recipe is the perfect place to start! Enjoy…

Chickpea Massaman Curry + Tom Yam Chilli
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Recipe type: Main
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Serves: Serves 4
Ingredients
Tom Yam Chili Paste
  • 6 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 10 dried whole chilies
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (or tamari sauce)
  • 2 tsp brown sugar / maple sirup
  • 2 tsp lime juice
Massman Curry
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 6 tbsp chopped onion
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 3 chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tsp curry powder
  • 2 cans coconut milk (full fat)
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce (or tamari sauce)
  • 2 tsp maple syrup or sugar
  • 8-10 chopped, pre-cooked, small potatoes / or ½ butternut squash
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tsp fresh lime juice
  • Optional: add 300 g chicken/beef/tofu
Instructions
Chili paste
  1. Melt oil in a large pot and add carrots. Sauté for about 3-4 minutes until they start to soften. Then add onions, garlic and chilies. Sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  2. Turn the heat off, then add soy sauce, sugar and lime juice and stir well using a spoon.
  3. Put everything in a blender or food processor (I use my mini food processor). Process until a paste forms and there are no big pieces of chilies left.
  4. Put the paste back in the wok for 2 minutes, then transfer to a glass jar. Set aside.
Massaman Curry
  1. Melt the coconut oil in a large pot or wok pan. Add onion, carrot pieces, tomatoes and curry powder and sauté over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until the onions are soft.
  2. Add coconut milk and stir well. Leave to simmer until it thickens up a bit. Add a little water if necessary (depending on how thick your coconut milk is).
  3. Add soy sauce, sugar, potatoes (pre-cooked), chickpeas and stir to combine. Leave for about 5 minutes to allow the chickpeas to heat up.
  4. Turn off heat, add a touch of lime juice and top with tom yam chilli paste and roasted peanuts/cashew nuts. Serve over rice or quinoa.

 

Referenced sources

  1. Pittaway JK, Ahuja KDK, Cehun M et al. (2007) Dietary Supplementation with Chickpeas for at Least 5 Weeks Results in Small but Significant Reductions in Serum Total and Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterols in Adult Women and Men. Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism. Vol. 50, Iss. 6; p. 512-518.
  2. Wallace, TC, Murray, R & Zelman, KM. (2016) The Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Chickpeas and Hummus. Nutrients. 2016 Nov 29;8(12).
  3. Murty CM, Pittaway JK and Ball MJ. (2010) Chickpea supplementation in an Australian diet affects food choice, satiety and bowel health. Appetite. 54(2):282-8. 
  4. Pittaway JK, Robertson IK and Ball MJ. (2008) Chickpeas may influence fatty acid and fiber intake in an ad libitum diet, leading to small improvements in serum lipid profile and glycemic control. Journal of American Dietetic Association. 108 (6), p. 1009-10013
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