Curried Carrot & Lentil Soup with Haloumi Croutons

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This soup was, in part, inspired by a post over at one of my favourite local blogs Lambs Ears & Honey. It’s rich, warming and incredibly versatile and cooks up in no time at all. It freezes well, is chock full of healthy vitamins and minerals and is quite low in calories to boot.  I’ve been getting some fantastic purple carrots from my local farmers markets for a few months now which I used in this soup, they are just like regular carrots in taste and texture but the purple colour brings added antioxidants.

The haloumi croutons I definitely can’t take credit for, I wish I had thought of it myself though as they are wonderful. They were inspired by the marvellous Heidi Swanson who has inspired many, many recipe creations (some more successful than others!) in my kitchen. When cooking with haloumi it’s really important to make sure you don’t overcook it. Haloumi can go from lovely to almost inedible in a few moments if you’re not keeping an eye on things. You literally want to brown each side of the cheese for about 30 seconds each, any more than that and you are entering rubbery cheese territory. If you’re vegan, skip the cheese and use crusty bread or some toasted cashews instead.

I used the curry powder mentioned in this recipe but you could go with whatever flavour combination you feel like. Sometimes I think when it comes to spice combos less is more, some lightly roasted cumin or coriander can be all you need to take your soup to the next level, too many flavours and everything starts to taste the same so bear that in mind when you are hovering around the spice rack. The addition of wheatgerm to this soup is purely optional, I use it because it is incredibly good for you and adds essential vitamins and minerals as well as adding some body to your soup. Lightly toasting in a small pan before adding to the soup adds a lovely nutty warmth that works wonderfully well with this flavour combination. Like other meals wheatgerm tends to go rancid quickly if stored improperly, so keep it in a sealed jar in the fridge (an old, well rinsed passata bottle is perfect for this) when not in use.

Curried Carrot & Lentil Soup with Haloumi Croutons

Serves 8

1 tbspn of coconut oil

1 leek, washed and diced (white part only)

1 tspn minced ginger

1 tspn minced garlic

3 tbspns curry powder

1 stalk celery, diced

3 large carrots, purple if you can get them!

2 tbspns tomato paste

1 cup passata

2 tbspns toasted wheatgerm (*optional)

1 cup red lentils, rinsed and picked over to remove any debris

7 cups vegetable broth

salt & pepper to taste

To serve:

2 pieces of Haloumi – lightly fried and seasoned with a little salt, pepper and lemon juice

1 tbspn greek yogurt

handful of chopped chives

Heat oil in a heavy based pan over a medium heat.

Add leeks, garlic, ginger and curry powder and fry lightly until fragrant.

Add celery and carrot and cook for another couple of minutes.

Add tomato paste, mix well and allow to simmer for 2 minutes.

Add passata, wheatgerm, lentils and broth.

Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20-25 minutes, until lentils are soft.

Season to taste and, if you like, blend until smooth.

Serve in a deep bowl, stir through the yogurt and then garnish with haloumi croutons and chives.

Enjoy!

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