Tag Archives: chilli

Fiery Lentil Soup

So what are you up to for Bonfire Night? Baked spuds around the fire, sweets or messy toffee apples?

Personally, I’m a big fan of a flask of soup with some bread to keep the cold out, and I’ve got a recipe that is a guaranteed winter warmer. It’s good old-fashioned lentil soup, which is probably one of the easiest soups to make and I think by far and away one of the most satisfying.

I’ve recently been adding a lot more spices to my food, and that includes a lot more chilli. I’ve actually started to get quite experimental, and I can only apologise to everyone who has been surprised to find allspice cropping up in a range of dishes (albeit – no disasters so far!).

However, today is not an exercise in culinary risk-taking. Rather, it’s my “normal” lentil soup which has been fortified by a sharp twist of lemon juice at the end, and a swirl of chilli paste (in the form of sambal olek). The result is something that is robust, satisfying and packs rather a punch in the flavour department. However, if you’ve got folks around who perhaps prefer things a little milder, adding the chilli at the end avoids them running around looking for glasses of water to kill the heat.

So if you’re off to some Bonfire Night festivities, wrap up warm, keep your pets safe, and have a great evening!

For spicy lentil soup (serves 4, easy to double/triple):

• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• knob of ginger, peeled and finely grated

• 3 clove garlic, finely chopped
• 2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon ground coriander
• 1 teaspoon mild curry powder
• 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
• 250g red lentils
• 1 stock cube
• 1 litre hot water
• salt and pepper, to taste
• lemon juice and chilli paste, to serve

1. Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the onions and cook on a medium heat until translucent (five minutes).

2. Add the ginger and garlic, and cook for two minutes (don’t let them burn). If they get too brown or start to stick, add a dash of water.

3. Add the spices and cook for 30 seconds. If it seems too dry, add some water – this will form a thick paste, and as the water evaporates, it will become oily and cook the spices. Don’t be tempted to add more oil.

4. Add the lentils and carrots and cook briefly, then add the water.

5. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Add the stock cube, and keep simmering until the lentils are tender. Add more water if the soup is too thick, then add some salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving, add a dash of chilli paste and a squeeze of lemon juice, erring on the side of caution!

Worth making? I think the addition of the chilli takes this from a good soup to a great soup. An excellent choice to keep the chill at bay this week!

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Filed under Recipe, Savoury

Chicory and Peanut Salad with Chilli-Lime Dressing

I’ve noticed I’ve got a bit of a habit of favouring complex or time-consuming recipes. To make up for this, here is a quick and easy salad with an Asian twist to it.

I made this a few days ago to accompany a chickpea and squash curry. I liked the idea of the crisp, fresh vegetables with a sharp citrus and chilli dressing to contrast with the rich, spicy curry, and the two dishes worked together really well. The salad was huge, but it all went between three people. I think the “lightness” of the salad meant it was easy to keep picking at it once we had finished the main course, although I must confess that the raw veggies also were also perfect for dipping into the remaining satay sauce…

For the salad:

• 2 heads of chicory
• 1 large carrot
• 1/2 cucumber
• 3 spring onions
• 75g peanuts
• handful coriander
• 5-6 mint leaves, finely chopped

Place the peanuts on a baking tray and toast in the oven at 180°C until lightly golden. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and chop roughly.

Cut the chicory in half, then slice each of the halves into very fine strips lengthways.  Peel the carrot, and slice into fine strips lengthways with a vegetable peeler. Cut the cucumber into quarters, and remove the seeds. Cut into thin batons. Top and tail the spring onions, and cut – you’ve guess it – lengthways into thin strips.

Place the sliced vegetables in a bowl and toss gently. Sprinkle over the peanuts, coriander and mint. Just before serving, pour on the dressing.

For the dressing:

• 1 red chilli
• 1 unwaxed lime (rind and juice only)
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

Remove the seeds and veins from the chilli, and chop finely. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk. Allow to sit until you are ready to serve the salad, and whisk again just before using.

Worth making? Yes. There is a nice mixture of textures and flavours here, with the bonus that there is very little salt in this recipe (apart from the soy sauce). Nothing here is particularly unusual, which made the end result all the more impressive, and I am sure that the basic recipe would lend itself to easy adaptation (cos lettuce in place of chicory, adding beansprouts or pea shoots…so many options!).

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Filed under Recipe, Savoury