Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Best. Soup. Ever.

Originally posted on La Vie En Fifi, 24 October 2009

Bold statement I know. There are a number of reasons (and my sales pitch on) why this is the best soup ever.

Quick and easy to make
Lots of nutrition - brightly coloured vegetables and good amount of protein
Low in fat/calories

The recipe came from New Zealand House & Garden many, many years ago. Since then I have made it a lot (My mother is the soup queen and I think I have inherited this gene thankfully). It has an ingredient list that can be memorised easily, and I make different versions of it for variety of flavour, and to use up fading vegetables.

Here is the original version:

1 brown onion, chopped and sautéed in a little olive oil
1 400g-420g can of plain or flavoured chopped tomatoes and juice
1 cup red lentils (rinsed and picked over – take out the odd yucky looking one)
4 cups/1 litre chicken stock (or any other stock flavor you like). I use a mix of my homemade chicken stock and store-bought stock powder/cubes.

(In my head, the recipe is: one onion, 1 can tomatoes, 1 cup red lentils, 1 litre stock – easy to remember!). Also, all the basic recipe ingredients are 'store cupboard ingredients' - I always have them on hand.

Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

This soup has been my staple lunch at work for this past, and other winters. It reheats beautifully in the microwave. I have even been known to make it before work (when I really have no extra time). The really quick version involves throwing the onion into the other ingredients without sautéing and then cooking for 20 minutes. If you were really pressed for time you could use the stock, a can of flavoured tomatoes and the red lentils, no onion.

My current batch, which was extra tasty, involves a handful of fresh pumpkin cubes. These cook within the time frame and I just break up the pieces with a potato masher when done. It’s a nicer soup a little rustic than pureed smooth. I also added fresh oregano (just tore the leaves off the stem once washed) from my garden pot, dried sweet basil and six bay leaves (which are removed after cooking).

Other additions that are good:

As I said before, any tired vegetables can be chopped up small (since you’re not pureeing) and added
Fresh or dried herbs
A little tomato paste
Any cooked meats if you like, however the lentils provide good protein, so not needed for a balanced meal.
If you have any, a dollop of full fat plain unsweetened yoghurt added just before serving is divine, as is Parmesan. Yum
Different flavoured tomatoes or spices for a different type - Italian, Mexican, Indian

I also rarely make the single batch, even though it’s just me eating it. Doubling the quantities doesn’t take much more effort, and I often freeze the second container for an instant week’s worth of lunches. I either eat this by itself, or with bread, or cheese on toast.

I am a big fan of slow food and slow cooking, but this is my favourite 'fast food' recipe.

Update 9 November: I have just made another batch of this soup, including pumpkin as last time, but with Indian flavoured chopped tomatoes and an extra teaspoon of yellow curry powder. I also used dried soup mix rather than red lentils. Dried soup mix contains red lentils, barley, split peas etc. It needs to be cooked for an hour and a half rather than the 20 minutes for red lentils only. I think this Indian version is my favourite yet.

Bon appétit!


  1. Mmm! This looks so fabulous! I love that it is so simple! And I'm always looking for a way to use more lentils! I'm going to have to try this one for sure!

  2. I make something like this; I sautee carrots,celery and dried herbs with onion, add some bacon to sautee, add the tomatoes, broth and add beans/peas. While it's simmering, I add parmesan or other cheese rinds I keep in a bag in the freezer. To finish, I fish out the cheese rinds and add a dollop of the full-fat yogurt or a few splashes of cream. Divine!!!

  3. Sounds delicious - and ticks all the boxes for me! I'll hae to try it. Thanks!

  4. This recipe sounds delicious! I love trying new soups, and I've been looking for a good lentil soup recipe. I decided to make this one today (its simmering on the stove as I type!) Can't wait to taste it.

  5. I've written this down, can't wait to try it! Thanks for sharing! xx


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