Recipe
Comments 19

Lentil & Spinach Soup with Harissa Croutons

Homemade chicken stock, and a bag of spinach. I foresaw a healthy dinner. I wanted it to have a kick, but I didn’t want it to be complicated, I simply didn’t have the energy. I had a tin of harissa, and I thought it would make a nice change to spice up some croutons and have them provide a lovely contrast in colour, texture and heat to a relatively mild lentil and spinach soup.

Lentils are ridiculously underrated. They are so tasty, earthy and dense, and work so well with spices, or as a supporting texture and flavour to other ingredients. There’s lots of types too, people describe lentils with offence, like they are describing one hideous smell to grace their table, the ingredient with B.O. as it were.

To those people I say pah! Praise the lentil, the puy and the red, the toor dal and the split pea. Adore them and cook them, nurture your body and soul.

Too far? Ok, back to the soup.

This was a great evening snack, comforting with some ooomph, and survived well for lunch the next day. I used about 1/3 of a baguette for the croutons (exactly 100g). This would serve 3/4, depending on how hungry you are;

Ingredients:

1 x 200g bag of baby spinach
100g split red lentils
1 banana shallot, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 mild green chilli, finely chopped
1.25l light stock, I used chicken but vegetable would be good too
1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground or the equivalent in ground cumin
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp harissa
sunflower oil (or similar)
S&P
a squeeze of fresh lemon to finish
100g leftover good bread, cubed

Method:

Harissa Croutons:

Preheat your oven to 150 degrees celsius.
Combine the harissa and olive oil, and season with S&P.
Toss the bread in the mixture until coated well.
Toast in the oven for 20-25 minutes until crisp.

Lentil & Spinach Soup:

Saute the shallot until translucent over a moderate heat for 5 minutes or so.
Add the cumin, chilli and garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
Add the stock and the lentils and cook for 10 minutes or so until the lentils are cooked.
Add the bag of spinach, stir in to wilt, and turn off the heat.
Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice and season to taste and serve immediately while still a gorgeous green with the spicy croutons on top.

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I like food. I like to make food. Eat food. Photograph food. Write about food. Mainly in London but when I am lucky or organised further afield.

19 Comments

  1. Ooooh that sounds great! I love lentils, especially split red ones, as they break down into gorgeous sludge. Yum.

  2. MartinH says

    This looks fantastic! I’ve grown into lentils, I never used to like them, but I’ve grown to love the way they take to spice, and, as Lizzie wonderfully puts it, the way they “break down into a gorgeous sludge”, awesome!

    I need to stock up on chillies again, once I do, this will be cooked, the croutons in particular, in fact, I might just make them to nibble on…

    • Hello Martin! The croutons were really nice. I was really happy with this. Do try it and let me know what you think.

  3. gastrogeek says

    this looks utterly delicious and I’m totally with you regarding the humble lentil. I must give this a try as I have some spinach that needs to be used up. I love the fact that it won’t break the bank to make this – the perfect pre-pay day treat!

  4. ooh loving the lentils too. I agree, why so underrated? People associate them with health food fad diets and Neil from the Young Ones I guess. I;m loving the harissa croutons.

    • I don’t know! A friend says she associates them with overdoes on sludge during the poverty of her student days. A crying shame I say.

  5. I could never go low-carb because I’d miss the croutons too much. I’m always on the prowl for new things to do with harissa. I have loads of hot chiles coming ripe in the garden, plus a smoker just begging to be used for something other than portabellas and tofu (vegetarian, we are) so I think I’m going to make some from scratch. As I recall, a little goes a helluva long way, so this recipe is going on the list of ways to use it up.

    • I don’t know how I could go low carb either. No pasta, no potatoes, no [insert-most-nice-things]. Enjoy! A little does go really far.

  6. canelvr says

    I made this the night before last and wow, it’s delicious! And still tasted good the next day. The spinach gives it a super texture. Thanks so much for sharing, Niamh!

  7. Kitchen Goddess says

    I’m drooling Niamh, I need to eat this right now!!

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