Soups can be really filling as well as massively tasty and healthy – like my ginger chilli lentil soup.
This is perfect food to eat when you want to lose weight - even I with my big appetite am perfectly happy with just a bowl of this soup and a side salad.
This is partly due to the lentils. Lentils are rich in protein and fibre, packed with minerals and low in fat. They have a low GL (see 9/1) and are perfect to add to soups and casseroles.
Apart from all the nutritional goodness, lentils are comfort food as far as I am concerned. I use them to make Coconut dahl, or mix puy lentils with roasted vegetables (see photos on the right).
Both dishes are the kind of food that leaves a warm glow in my tummy – as does this lentil soup.
There are a lot of different flavours in the soup – ginger, chilli, garlic, turmeric and a garam masala mix. I really like the spicy flavour of ginger and I will happily add it to a lot of different dishes – either fresh ginger or dried ground ginger.
You can use a ready-made garam masala spice mix but I will also give you the recipe for the mix I make myself. This will make more that you need but it will keep for a couple of months if you store it in the fridge in an airtight container.
Tip: To make this an even more filling soup, you could add some cooked ultra-healthy quinoa before serving. Or to inject some healthy green vegetables into the soup, add some green peas for the last few minutes of cooking. Or go wild and add both – and feed 6 instead of 4!
Garam Masala Spice Mix:
1 heaped tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
8 cardamom pods – left whole while roasting then split open and seeds removed for grinding once cooled down
5 whole cloves
½ teaspoon black pepper corns
1/3 of a cinnamon stick
1 level teaspoon turmeric
1. Dry-roast the coriander and cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cloves, black pepper corns and piece of cinnamon stick in a frying pan over a medium high heat for 1-2 minutes until the spices start to become aromatic and a few shades darker. Remove from the heat.
2. Once cooled down, split open the cardamom pods and place the seeds together with the other roasted spices in a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder. Grind to a fine powder. Once done, mix in the ground turmeric.
Ginger Chilli Lentil Soup for 4 people:
2 tablespoons coconut oil, or use vegetable or groundnut oil
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
1 medium-sized red onion
2 garlic cloves, crushed/minced
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 teaspoons garam masala
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
200g, 7oz, 0.9cup, red lentils – rinsed under plenty of cold water before added to the pot
2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons tomato puree
900ml, 1pint 10floz, 4 cups, water
1. Place the coconut oil and mustard seeds in a big pot over a medium-high heat. As soon as the mustard seeds start to crackle and pop, add the chopped onion, lover the heat and stir and cook for about five minutes.
2. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and continue to cook for a further minute before adding the garam masala and turmeric. Cook for a further minute.
3. Stir in the lentils, diced sweet potato and tomato puree before adding the water. Season with salt and stir. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Cook for 25 minutes – take off the lid and give the soup a stir a couple of times during cooking.
I like my soups to be really thick but you can always add some more water if you want it to be thinner. I’d say you need to add more water if you are adding both cooked quinoa and green peas to this ginger chilli lentil soup.
Serving suggestions: add a dollop of natural yogurt and sprinkle some garam masala on top of each portion. For a touch of green - add some chopped coriander.
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