It is warming, bold flavours that are going to get us through winter. Normally, I sink into this month with the quiet, calm pleasure got from a too-busy December, but this year is a strange mix. I love the nights in, reading and cooking more, and hanging out with the children, but at the same time, I cannot wait to throw open our doors and start feeding the people I love again. No matter: this deliciously fragrant soup is blissfully simple to pull together midweek and should hit the spot.
Moroccan-spiced lentil and carrot soup with crispy kale
Experiment with the spices here: add turmeric, chilli flakes, more cinnamon – find your favourite blend.
Prep 15 min
Cook 45 min
3 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 x 400g tin plum tomatoes
150g brown lentils, rinsed
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1½ litres vegetable stock
200g kale, stems removed, leaves chopped
1 big bunch coriander, chopped
Thick yoghurt (optional)
Lemon wedges, to finish (optional)
Heat a casserole pan, add two tablespoons of the oil and fry the onion and garlic for 10 minutes, until soft, seasoning generously with salt and pepper at the beginning. Add the spices and stir energetically into the onions for a few minutes.
Pour in the tomatoes, breaking them up through your hands or with a wooden spoon as you do so. Cook for five minutes, then add the lentils, carrots and stock. Bring to simmering point, taste and adjust the seasoning, then cook for 20-25 minutes, until the lentils are tender.
Meanwhile, turn on the grill and massage the kale in the remaining tablespoon of oil. Spread out the kale on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and grill for five or six minutes, stirring a few times, until crisp and dark around the edges – be warned, it catches easily.
Stir the coriander into the soup, ladle into warm bowls and top with the kale and yoghurt, if using. A squeeze of lemon would add a joyous sparkle to the whole affair. Serve with crusty bread.
And for the rest of the week …
Use the same mix of spices on less expensive cuts of lamb for a very affordable and delicious slow-cooked tagine with prunes or apricots.