Orange Lentil Soup

A packet of red split lentils is useful for soups because it softens quickly, is receptive to all manner of seasonings and very filling. Here it’s chivvied up with garlic, chilli and cumin, a spicy, hauntingly aromatic big thick bowlful with orange Romano pepper and carrot. As so often the case, the soup begins with onion and garlic and is thickened with a little flour. Garlic or crusty bread is what you need to scoop this up with.

Serves 4

Prep: 20 min

Cook: 30 min

1 red onion

2 garlic cloves

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 large carrot

1 orange or red Romano (pointed) pepper

175g red split lentils

1/4 tsp chilli flakes

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/2 dsp flour

1 bay leaf

1 litre ham, chicken or vegetable stock

1 lemon

2 tbsp snipped chives, flat leaf parsley or coriander

Halve, peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Soften in 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a suitable, lidded pan over a medium-low heat, adding a pinch salt and stirring regularly. Meanwhile, scrape the carrot and slice into small dice. Trim the pepper, halve lengthways, scrape out the seeds and slice into similarly-sized small pieces. Stir the carrot and then pepper into the onion. Stir in the chilli, cumin and then flour, continuing to stir until taken up into the vegetables. Add the lentils and bay leaf and half the stock. Increase the heat, keep stirring as the soup comes up to the boil and the liquid thickens. Add remaining stock, return to boil, reduce the heat so the soup simmers gently. Remove a strip of lemon zest (no white) and chop into small scraps. Add to the pan, semi-cover and simmer gently for about 25 minutes until the lentils have blown and the veg tender. Adjust the seasoning to taste with salt and lemon juice. Stir in the herbs just before serving.