Ever felt like soup in spring? Yeah, maybe not. But maybe you totally do? Maybe you really love soup, especially now, around Easter, when you can’t bear to look another chocolate bunny in the eye. Then my dear friend, this tangy and aromatic tomato and lentil soup might just be the thing for you. It’s wonderful on its own, but I especially love it with some crusty bread slathered with some cream cheese.
As with most recipes, this is more of a blueprint than anything else. As long as you have the rasam powder, you can add and subtract whatever your stomach desires. However, make sure you don’t leave out the toasted coconut – it really completes it.
Make sure you either have a pestle and mortar or a solid spice grinder to make the rasam powder. The lentils brought my usual grinder to the brink of cracking, so if you’re unsure whether yours will make it, stick to pestle and mortar.¼ cup/ 50g split chickpeas
¼ cup / 50g yellow lentils (or whatever other lentil you have around)
1 cup / 60g coriander seeds
2 Tbsp / 20g cumin
2 tsp black pepper corns
1-2 tsp chilli flakes (go easy on those- remember, you can always spice things up later)
½ tsp asafoetida
2 Tbsp ground fenugreek
2 Tbsp ground turmeric
small handful dried curry leaves
Toast the pulses in a pan until golden and smelling nicely nutty. Cool for a moment then grind with a pestle and mortar or if you’re more one for speed and convenience, a strong blender.
Toast the coriander, cumin, pepper and chilli flakes until a shade darker. Let cool, then grind with the asafoetida, fenugreek, turmeric, and curry leaves.
Combine with the ground pulses and transfer into a lidded jar.
Will keep for a couple of months.
5 Tbs desiccated coconut
1-2 tbs ghee or butter
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 garlic cloves, sliced
6-10 dried curry leaves (less if fresh, more if dried)
500g cherry tomatoes, chopped
100g lentils (whatever you’ve got on hand. Just remember they’ll vary in cooking time. I tend to use red lentils for a speedy soup, yellow if I have more time)
1.5 litres of stock
6 tsp rasam powder
half a bunch of coriander, chopped
1 tsp tamarind concentrate, or more to taste
1 tsp brown sugar, to taste
salt, more chilli
In a big pot, toast the coconut until golden. Transfer to a bowl and keep for later.
Melt butter and add mustard and cumin seeds. Let them bubble around until the seeds starts to pop. Add the garlic cloves and the curry leaves, and leave to fry a little longer until the garlic takes on a little bit of colour.
Add the tomatoes, cooking them until mushy.
Add the lentils and the stock, along with the tamarind and rasam powder and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook until the lentils are done. Again, this time can vary from 20 minutes to over an hour. If you’d prefer, you can pre-cook the lentils and add them as the same time as you would the dried ones.
When the lentils are cooked (preferably on the completely soft side, rather than al dente. Who even eats al dente lentils anyway), add the coriander, tamarind, sugar, salt and chilli to taste. Let all of it bubble for about 10 more minutes.