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Carrot, fennel seed and red lentil soup

It’s that weekend in October. Yup, the one where the clocks go back. I joyfully slept for that extra hour and to be fair it was then a few more hours after that! It has been a hectic month and my body was crying out for more rest. So now I am a little more rested. I am currently having a duvet day, I have watched ‘Rebecca’ on Netflix and I am deciding what to subject myself to next.

In the interim I thought I’d share this recipe for carrot and red lentil soup. It’s perfect for this time of year – warm and so very comforting. It is taken from Sabrina Ghayour’s recipe book ‘Bazaar’ one of my many birthday gifts this year. It’s fairly simple to execute, although I had not quite realised that it took so long. So not one to make late at night when you are hungry! The second time I made this, was a little more relaxed, late on a cozy Saturday afternoon and I also swapped out the carrots for some frozen butternut squash chunks that were langishing in the bottom of the freezer.

It’s very tasty, the lemon juice adds a tang that I feel is balanced by the presence of the yoghurt and sesame seed oil. It made for a lovely light meal and freezes will for lunches at home and work.

Ingredients

2 tsp fennel seeds

Vegetable oil or ghee

50g fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated

1 onion, diced

500g carrots, scrubbed and cut into rough chunks

2 fat garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 tsp turmeric

2 L boiling water

Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 tbsp)

150g uncooked red lentils

4 tbsp labneh or thick Greek yogurt

4 tsp sesame oil

Maldon sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

Couple of pinches of pul biber (red pepper flakes) and/or chilli flakes to garnish

Method:

1.Toast the fennel seeds in a large, dry saucepan over a medium heat for two minutes, then drizzle in a little vegetable oil or ghee and add the ginger and onion. Saute until the onion begins to soften, without letting it brown. Add the carrot to the pan and stir-fry until the edges begin to soften.

2.Now add the garlic, turmeric and a generous amount of salt and pepper to the saucepan and mix well. Pour over the boiling water, adjust the heat to bring the mixture to a simmer and simmer gently, without a lid, for 45 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then blitz the mixture using a handheld blender or transfer to a food processor or blender.

3.Return the soup to the pan if necessary, adjust the seasoning, then stir in the lemon juice. Set the pan over a medium heat and stir in the red lentils. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30-40 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. If the soup seems too thick, blitz half the mixture using the hand-held blender, food processor or blender. Divide the soup between four bowls. Dollop one tablespoon of labneh into each bowl and drizzle one teaspoon of sesame oil over the top. Finish with a sprinkling of pul biber/pepper/chilli flakes and serve.

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