A North African inspired soup with red lentil and chickpeas, with a tomato base that is spiced with earthy cumin and Ras el Hanout. A perfectly warming soup for a cold winter’s day that would make a quick and easy meatless supper. Add a little bit of chilli powder for a bit of a spicy kick or paprika for a milder option and serve with a fresh squeeze of lemon.
I am literally counting down the days (less than 2 weeks left!) until we start getting more daylight! I can endure the cold, and I like a bit of rain every now and then (no soggy socks though), but one thing I am not a fan of though is the lack of daylight hours. So I like to compensate for the dark and the cold with hot soup in vibrant colours. This North African style soup or stew smells so rich and exotic that I almost feel transported to the Mediterranean. I also added a pinch of chilli powder so alongside the warmth of the soup, it’s excellent for if you’re feeling a little under the weather.
This recipe was inspired by the many Algerian soups over at Halal Home Cooking. I decided to go for a protein veggie combo of red lentil, which we always have in the house and chickpeas. And yes, I did use canned chickpeas. Seriously, one of these days I will use dried chickpeas!
I flavoured this soup with ground cumin, which is probably my favourite spice ever, and that lends a certain earthiness to the soup. I also used Ras el Hanout for the first time, a classical North African spice mix. You can make your own blend at home, but I decided to go for a shop bought version. It’s super aromatic and heady and the combination of spices is quite similar to what you might find in Indian cuisine or garam masala spice blends.
I also added a pinch of turmeric which I don’t usually add to soups. But it adds more vibrancy to the colour of the soup alongside some tomato puree. Much more attractive than a brown soup. Bengalis will add turmeric to pretty much anything. People like my mum passionately assert that if you don’t add a little turmeric a dish will look anaemic (literally sai takheh for m Bengali readers out there).
So if you’re looking for a soup to transport you to a warmer climate then give this healthy and flavour packed soup a go.
- 3-4 tbs oil
- 1 onion sliced,
- 1 clove garlic, sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp ras el hanout
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp chilli powder or paprika
- 2/3 cup red lentils, washed and soaked for 10 minutes
- 1 can of cooked chickpeas, drained
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes or 1 medium salad tomato, chopped
- 1 tbs tomato paste
- Salt to season
- Coriander to garnish
- In a medium sized pot add oil. Allow to heat up then add in onions and garlic. Add a 1/4 tsp salt to help onions soften. Let onions cook until golden brown.
- Add in bay leaf and ground spices. Cook off the spices for about 2-3 minutes then add in drained lentils, tomato paste and tomatoes. Stir to toast the lentils and leave it for 3-5 minutes. Then add 1.5-2 cups water to help lentils soften and cook through. Cover and leave to cook.
- Once the lentils have absorbed the water and cooked through, add in the chickpeas. Stir then top up the pot with enough water to bring it to the brim, about 3-5 cups. Cover and leave the soup to simmer to a boil on a medium heat.
- After about 15-20 minutes, once the soup has simmering to a rolling boil and the liquid has reduced slightly, season with salt to taste. Garnish with a handful of coriander then remove from the heat and serve.