It's winter. And winter means warm, comforting bowls of healthy goodness. But healthy needn't be tasteless. And soups needn't be one dimensional.
I love mixing ingredients to create new soups. Be it a mix of veggies, or adding in legumes & beans, a hearty soup is one that has a plethora of flavours ... without adding much else. I never ever add any chicken or veg stock to my soups. On the contrary, my only secret would be to let all the ingredients slow cook and simmer together for a little longer than expected. And then blend it all. Always blend. Much as I love chunky soups, blending definitely gives a uniform flavour to the dish and removes the need for unnecessary additives. Plus, if you have kids, you can use it to hide away those unwanted veggies! (My baby is only 6 months but I totally plan to try this on her as she grows. It's already been tested on the errr.. veggie disliking hubby;))
I have used a slightly lengthy process for this soup (and it does make a difference!), but if you're short on time, you can skip roasting the tomatoes. Or you could use a can of (I know I know..ugh!) fire roasted tomatoes (cans are not exactly my go to EVER, but I know some busy people swear by them).
Ingredients (Serves 2)
For the soup
4 large plum tomatoes, halved
1 green pepper, cut into large chunks
1 small red onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 jalapeno (more if you like it hot!), finely chopped
2 (heaped) tablespoons red lentils (lentils add creaminess to the soup without the need for anything heavy. You can substitute with a little grated cauliflower or sweet potato if you are not a fan of lentils)
1 teaspoon peri peri spice (optional)
2 teaspoons cumin powder
6 tablespoons light olive oil
Handful of cilantro, roughly chopped (stems and all!)
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup chickpeas (I soaked and boiled them, but you can use a can)
1 tablespoon light olive oil
Spice mix : 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder, 1/2 teaspoon dry mango (amchoor) powder, 1/3 teaspoon garam masala, salt
Whole milk yogurt or sour cream
Roast the chickpeas
Add oil to a non stick pan. On high heat, add the chickpeas and the spice mix, and roast till the chickpeas begin crisping on the egdes. Stir constantly to avoid burning. Remove from heat and cool.
Roast the veggies
Toss the tomatoes and green peppers in 2 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder, salt & pepper. Put it on a baking tray and roast in a 425F pre-heated oven for 45-60mins, till the tomatoes are completely tender and edges begin to brown. Cool, remove skin off the tomatoes and crush. If the green peppers are soft enough for the skin to come off, then remove if off them as well. Otherwise you could leave the peppers as is.
Make the soup
Heat the remaining oil in a deep bottomed pan. Add the jalapeno, ginger & garlic and cook for a few seconds. Toss in the onions, add a little salt and cook till the onions turn translucent. Stir in the lentils and roast for a couple of minutes. Finally add the roasted tomatoes & green peppers, along with the remaining dry spices. Add 1 cup water, cover, and let the mixture simmer for 30-40 minutes on medium heat, till the lentils are full cooked. Remove cover, cool contents slightly and blend, blend, blend.... Transfer soup back to the stove (trust me on this step!) to give it all one more (long) simmer before serving. (I use a hand blender so everything is done in the same pot - less dishes folks!)
Top with roasted chickpeas, a dollop of yogurt and some fresh cilantro. Enjoy steaming hot!
What's your favourite winter soup? Leave a comment and let me know!