Lentil soup, harissa croutons

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Lentil soup, harissa croutons
A gentle, smooth red lentil soup is a perfect carrier for spicy, crisp harissa croutons. I love playing with croutons. They are receptive to so many flavours. These harissa croutons are great – spicy and crispy – though a mellow crouton of good bread tossed in Parmesan, parsley and olive oil is terrific in salad. There’s so much scope.
 

1 tbsp harissa (homemade is best, see below)

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

100g leftover good bread, cubed

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 banana shallot, finely chopped

1 tbsp light oil, such as sunflower

1 mild green chilli, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1.25 litres light vegetable or chicken stock

100g red lentils

200g baby spinach

squeeze of lemon

Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2. Combine the harissa and olive oil and season. Toss with the bread to coat. Bake for 20–25 minutes until crisp, shaking occasionally. Meanwhile, place the cumin seeds in a small dry frying pan over a medium heat and stir until aromatic. Grind to a powder in a mortar and pestle.

Sauté the shallot in the oil over a medium heat for five minutes, until translucent. Add the cumin, chilli and garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Pour in the stock and lentils; cook for 10–15 minutes until the lentils break down. Pack in the spinach, stir to wilt and turn off the heat. Squeeze over lemon, season and serve with the spicy croutons.

Recipes from ‘Comfort and Spice’ by Niamh Shields, published by Quadrille (www.quadrille.co.uk) Photos © Georgia Glynn Smith

Serves
4

Preparation Time
20 minutes

Cooking Time
20 minutes

Main ingredients
Vegetables, Lentils

Recipe Type
Soups, Starters, Healthy, Vegetarian

Special Info
Nut free, Egg free, Vegetarian, Pregnant Mums, Dairy free

Level of Difficulty
Easy

To make homemade harissa, roast a red pepper over a gas flame until black all over. Place in a plastic bag and allow to cool. Blitz with 4 red chillies, deseeded, 1 tbsp toasted and ground cumin seeds, 2 garlic cloves, chopped, 1 tsp red wine vinegar and 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and season with sea salt.

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