After a couple of weeks of cakes and feasting on wonderful mushroom dishes my pants are starting to feel a little, ahem, tighter than usual. This soup is one of the ways I am keeping myself nourished and healthy, a simple pairing of juicy carrots, parsnips and red lentils creates a wonderfully satisfying lunch that warms from the inside out.
I’ve been playing around with parsnips a little lately, they are something I am becoming increasingly fond of. I’ve been thinly slicing and then roasting parsnips in some olive oil until crisp for a unique riff on croutons and, as was the case with this soup, roasting them with some honey and soy until tender and lightly caramelised.
While there are a few steps to bring this dish together, it doesn’t require much in the way of hard work; as you wait for your vegies to roast and the lentils to cook you can sip cups of tea and potter about in the garden. Once everything is cooked simply combine and enjoy. I’ve been trying this method of soup making lately as it helps to control flavour and consistency. Simply drain off the liquid and work it through the soup with a blender until the desired consistency is reached, you may have some stock left over or you may use more than you started with as you add milk, coconut milk or even cream to round out flavours and textures. If you prefer to skip this step I’m sure it will be fine, just keep tasting until you get the flavour you are looking for.
I served this with a couple of slices of Paul’s homemade sourdough with lashings of butter and a dob of sour cream. The parsnip croutons would also work here as would caramelised onions and fresh herbs.
- 1 tbspn rice bran oil
- ½ brown onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tspn coriander seeds
- 2 tspn cumin
- 1 tspn carraway seeds
- 1 tspn turmeric
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 cup red lentils, washed and picked over to remove debris
- 3-4 cups water
- 1 vegetarian stock cube (or 3-4 cups of good vegetarian stock)
- 3 good-sized parsnips, peeled and cut into chips
- 2 medium-large carrots, peeled and cut into chips
- 1 tbspn rice bran oil
- 1 tspn honey (substitute vegan sweetener such as agave, if required)
- 1 tbspn soy sauce
- ½ tspn salt
- 1 can coconut milk
- salt & pepper to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees centigrade.
- In a large, heavy-based pan heat 1 tbspn rice bran oil over low-medium heat.
- Add onion and lightly fry for 4-5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Don’t let it brown.
- While the onion is frying, dry fry the spices (cumin, caraway & coriander) in a small pan, until fragrant. Grind with a mortar and pestle.
- Add garlic, turmeric and freshly ground spices. Stir well to coat the onion and then cook gently for a few minutes being careful not to let the onion brown.
- Add the celery and cook for a further 2-3 minutes and then add the lentils.
- Stir well to coat everything in the spice mix and then add a splash of water to the pan.
- Gently scrape any cooked on spices off the bottom of the pan and then add the remaining water and stock cube.
- Pop the lid on and bring to a rolling boil over a high heat.
- In the meantime add the carrots and parsnips to an oven proof tray.
- Mix the oil, honey, soy and salt in a small bowl. You might need to add a splash of warm water if the honey is not mixing well.
- Pour over the top of the vegies and, using your hands, massage the oil mixture into the vegies.
- Place in the hot oven and roast vegies for 30 minutes (or until tender). Check halfway and turn to ensure even coverage.
- Return to your pot of lentils, turn the heat down to medium and take the lid off. Allow to cook until the lentils are tender – about 25-30 minutes.
- Check the pot every now and then, skimming foam from the corners and adding a little extra water at the halfway mark. Be careful not to let the water cook off completely.
- When the lentils are tender, drain ensuring you keep the cooking liquid. Set aside.
- When the vegies are tender, remove from the oven and drain on some paper towel.
- In a large bowl combine the coconut milk with the cooking water, stir well and add a half teaspoon of salt.
- Over a low flame add the drained lentils back to the pot with the vegies and a cup of the coconut stock mixture.
- Using a stick blender start pureeing the vegies, adding more stock as you need it until you have a soup-like consistency.
- Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Serve in a bowl with thick, crusty bread and feel it warm you from the inside out.