I feel the need to tell you that this soup is both vegan AND one of the best soups I have ever eaten. Now, if you are anything like my meat-craving, Afrikaans family, the words “Vegan” and “Dinner” should never be used in the same sentence. My dad and brothers think of vegans as tie-dye-wearing hippies who pray to the trees and have birds as friends. And until I met vegans who weren’t like that, I thought the same. And even though I don’t think I could ever have their dedication when it comes to cutting out animal products, I still like to venture into their area of cooking every now and then as I find it a serious challenge to stick to proper Vegan rules. Cutting out meat isn’t hard, just take a look at the vast amount of recipes in my Vegetarian category. But using no cream, cheese, yoghurt or milk? I find it near impossible.
I didn’t set out to make a vegan soup when I first started making this soup. I just wanted to play with Indian flavours and decided to use lentils as the main ingredient. Only after I had my second helping of this fragrant soup did I realise that I didn’t use any animal products in this soup, which is definitely a first for me. This of course means that it is MUCH healthier but what was the most impressing to me was that I didn’t miss the meat. The cooked lentils are very meaty in texture and flavour and using fresh spices added all the depth and flavour I normally associate with food made with meat/animal products.
The roasted chickpeas adds wonderful crunch but to be honest, I prefer eating them as is. They are my absolute favourite new snack and I often have a bowl of them around when I feel like snacking but can’t be bothered to pop some popcorn.
Serve this soup with roti/naan bread and extra chopped chillies and fresh coriander.
2 red onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
4 celery spears, finely sliced
2 tsp each smoked paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander, garam masala & turmeric
1 tsp each chilli flakes, cinnamon
500g red lentils
2 x 400g tinned tomatoes
1 tbsp sugar
1-1.5l vegetable stock/water
50ml soy sauce
salt to taste
1x 400ml tin coconut cream
fresh lime juice
fresh chopped chillie
for the roasted chickpeas
1x 400g tin chickpeas in water/brine, rinsed
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp each ground cumin, ground coriander, chilli flakes, smoked paprika
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp salt
- For the soup, fry the onion, garlic, carrots and celery in canola/sunflower oil until soft and fragrant.
- Add the spices and fry for another minute before adding the red lentils, tinned tomatoes and sugar.
- Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes and add the vegetable stock/water. (It’s important to remember not to add any salt at this stage or else your lentils won’t soften)
- Allow the soup to simmer for 30-45 minutes until the lentils are cooked and the soup has thickened slightly.
- Add the soy sauce, coconut cream and then season to taste.
- Allow to simmer for another 10 minutes and serve with lime cheeks, coriander and chillies.
- To make the roasted chickpeas, pre-heat the oven to 220°c.
- Mix all the ingredients and place on a non-stick baking tray.
- Place in the oven and allow to roast for 15-20 minutes until the chickpeas are crispy.
- Serve on their own or as a topping to the soup.