I suppose this soup draws influence from both the flavours of French and Moroccan cooking. Green lentils themselves feature predominately in both of these cuisines, the vinegar and the vegetables lean towards a French soup while the warmth of the cinnamon and the cumin draw upon the flavours of Morocco. In any event, it’s a delicious and filling soup to make with the end goal of curling up with a good book and hot bowl of something satisfying. I like to garnish with either julienned cucumbers or full-fat yoghurt, there is something about these food items that suggest coolness and even a sort of contextually appropriate blandness. If you prefer a stewier dish then reel back the stock amount to 4 cups. Likewise, if you want an endlessly smooth soup then blitz the whole pot without leaving any in solid form. I enjoy eating this with my Roasted Red Pepper Cornmeal Focaccia, but any hearty bread would work well with this recipe.
CINNAMON-SPICED LENTIL SOUP:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium sized onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 stalks of celery, chopped finely
4 tomatoes OR one pint of cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups of green lentils
6 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. lemon or orange juice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. Hungarian paprika
1 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Cucumber or full-fat yoghurt for garnish
1. Sauté all of the vegetables and the garlic in the olive oil over medium heat for 8 minutes. Add the lentils and the stock; bring to a boil and then allow to simmer for 40 minutes, uncovered.
2. Allow the soup to cool to a temperature which is appropriate for blending. Working in batches (fill the blender about 1/3 of the way full) blitz 1/2 of the cooled soup leaving the other 1/2 still somewhat chunky. You can fiddle with the ratio of blended:unblended, but I personally find a half and half distribution the perfect texture.
3. Heat the soup back up over medium-high high heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Make sure that you taste often, some of you may want more or less of a particular flavour. What you’re aiming for is a pleasant balance between the tangy citrus juice and vinegar with the musky woodiness of the spices.
4. Serve hot garnished with julienned cucumber or a dollop of full-fat yoghurt.
May I just say that Erik Satie wrote music that is destined to be used as a backdrop to slow food composition? When I am in my little galley kitchen around 4:00 in the afternoon watching the steel grey sky turning a dusky mauve, the shop lights flickering on across the street, when all of this is happening and I am cooking and smelling cinnamon and stock and the onions I feel incredibly safe. Moving across the country is very difficult and I miss my friends and family with a very sharp ache at times, but when I can listen to something as beautiful and consistent as the music of Erik Satie I don’t feel that hurt quite as deeply. This music makes my small new world feel like home.
Erik Satie – Trois Gymnopédies