Today we were treated to another soup, normally I do not eat much soup #2 daughter, the willowy brunette, would eat it everyday, but I find it sends me to sleep.However, on this day. the soup in question was made, not by me, but by a dear friend Yuki. It was a lentil soup with curry oil and coriander, courtesy of the London Chef, Yotam Ottolenghi.
Ottolenghi grew up in Jerusalem and moved to London in the 1990’s. The food in his restaurants is basically middle eastern flavours, with many a twist. Other chefs have used a variation of his red lentil soup and as such has been passed down from generation to generation throughout the middle east. When we think of the middle east today, we think of Syria, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, but to that list we need to add Turkey and of course Egypt, but what about Sicily? it too has been ruled by the Arabs, so there will be middle east influence in their foods as well.
So Claudia Roden in her book on Middle Eastern Cooking, her version of lentil soup, adds cumin, whereas in Morocco, they add, spinach and cumin.Claudis Roden also says in her book on Jewish cooking that Lentils were very much part of the Sephardi diet, where they too add, cumin but also some or all of the following, Turmeric, chopped Chillies, Rice, chopped Tomatoes, Spinach, Coriander, Ginger, Saffron, Lemons and Mint.
So you can see that there are many variations on a theme, none of them are 100% correct but then again none of them are 100% wrong.
So for my version of this delightful and flavoursome soup, I start by making my own Chili oil;
- 200 ml oil, I use olive
- 2 red onions chopped
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- a knob of ginger chopped
- 2 tsp curry powder. 2 tsp tomato paste
- juice and zest of 1/2 lemon or lime.
- half a red chili de-seeded and chopped.
Heat just a little of the oil, add the onion, the ginger, the garlic and curry powder and fry gently for a few minutes until the onion is soft, but not brown. Add the tomato paste and stir in well, Add the rest of the oil and the lemon zest and juice and simmer for 30 minutes, leave to cool and then drain.
For the soup
- 1 liter of stock ( vegetable or chicken)
- 4 oz Sugar snap or Mangetout peas
- 2 tabs Thai red curry paste
- 2 sticks lemon grass, bashed and chopped
- 4 Kaffir lime leaves ( from Asian super markets)
- 250 Grams, of either fine yellow or red lentils
- 2 tbs of lime juice, or the juice of one lime
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro ( coriander)
- 1 red onion sliced
- 3 tbs olive oil
Saute the onion until soft, add the curry paste, the lemon grass and the kaffir lime leaves, along with the lentils and the stock, cook for bout 20 mins, until the lentils are really soft.
Remove the lemon grass and the Kaffir lime leaves. Add the coconut and the lime juice , taste and add a pinch of salt.
Blanch the peas and slice into chunks. Heat the soup, serve with some toasted sourdough bread, with the peas, cilantro sprinkled on top and a drizzle of chili oil.