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This soup brings color and warmth to a cold day like today. It’s deliciously creamy and the spices I threw in there made it extra spicy.

Even though it’s pretty easy to make, it has, like almost all the recipes on this blog, a story. I will try to make it short.

I met Sonja back in February 2012. We started working for the same company on the same day, therefore we had our trainings together, we were sitting across from each other and basically we started spending 8+ hours a day together. At first we didn’t really click, not that we didn’t like each other, but we were so different that I couldn’t really see how we could find something we had in common.

After a few weeks, however, she started talking about becoming a vegetarian. Since I had been vegetarian for a few years already she started asking me questions and advice.  Conversations started flowing and our relationship begun to evolve.

One a Saturday night, after a few months we had been working together, we spontaneously went out for a drink. Seeing each other outside the office, without those screens between us, was what we needed. She was a revelation to me; She was so spontaneous and positive.

We started going out more, opening up more and having lots of fun. This girl slowly but surely became a great friend. Not only have we spent nights out running barefoot through Amsterdam, dancing, eating, and hugging horses, but we have also helped each other through rough times; and that’s when you can really call someone a friend, right?

But what has this soup to do with this? Well, not long after she started talking about becoming a vegetarian, she actually took the decision and stopped eating meat and fish. Hours were spent talking about good nourishment, meat replacements, protein and such.

Most of my protein intake was coming from eggs; she, on the other hand, loved her cottage cheese. But it was not enough; especially when we started going to the gym consistently. That’s when we started experimenting with those we call chicken bits (they are so good!), considering protein powders and looking for good and healthy recipes.

Research and medical advice lead us to the obvious and well known answer: legumes! Neither of us was really excited about beans, but we started looking for recipes that included lots of beans and that’s how we came to the conclusion lentil soup would become our go-to lunch. Lentils are the easiest to cook, they don’t take too long and they taste pretty damn good. Also, they are packed with iron, potassium and other great stuff.

We started making out first batches: mine looked a little too brownish, hers were absolutely red from the half a box of chili pepper she put in there. After a few weeks we both had figured out ingredients and quantities and it has often been my lunch ever since.

This is my version, topped with a little creme fraiche and coriander, which I paired with some gluten free nut crackers (recipe from Green Kitchen Stories, one of my favorite blogs).

Spicy Lentil Soup (for 4 big bowls)

300 g red lentils, rinsed

1 big onion, peeled and chopped

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

200 ml tomato sauce

1 chili pepper, minced

1 tsp ginger powder

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp curry powder

1 l vegetable stock

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to season

creme fraiche and coriander to decorate

In a small sauce pan prepare the stock and set aside.

In a big pot drizzle some olive oil to just cover the bottom. Put on medium heat and when the oil is hot add the onion. Add the garlic and all the spices (turmeric, curry and ginger). Keep stirring so that the spices get toasted but the garlic doesn’t burn.

Add the lentils and stir well. Start adding the vegetable stock a little at the time. Let it boil for about 30-40 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and chili pepper and season with salt and pepper.

Let the soup cool down a bit, then pour in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy.

Top with lots of coriander leaves and olive oil or a little creme fraiche. Serve with croutons or these amazing gluten free nut crackers.