I love to include recipes here on Homespun Capers that feature on high rotation in my own kitchen – I feel like they’re the ones worth sharing, because they’re the ones I always comes back to time and time again. This is such a recipe – it’s a super easy and versatile soup that I make about once a week during the cooler months. I always adjust the spices and toppings to what I feel like and what I’ve got on hand, but this particular topping of saffron yoghurt makes this everyday lentil soup pretty darn special. People often turn their noses up at the idea of lentil soup, saying it’s boring and ho-hum… But to them I say this: you have obviously never had a good lentil soup. This little number is flavoursome, rich, filling and satisfying. This, my friends, is the one you’ve been waiting for.
This is the last instalment in my suite of delicious autumn immune boosting recipes, and I hope they have inspired you with some different ways to strengthen your body for this time of year. There’s a few different ingredients in this soup that are worth talking about in terms of their health properties. Firstly, lentils are a powerhouse of iron, guaranteed to power you through winter! They are also an excellent prebiotic (which I wrote about last week here), so are fantastic for your immune system when combined with this probiotic saffron yoghurt. Saffron, to start with, is a natural anti-depressant, so it’s a perfect addition to your diet throughout winter when S.A.D. starts setting in. It’s also high in magnesium and vitamin C, so it helps your body fight against infection. Finally, a good dose of cayenne pepper to increase circulation and garlic to bring some anti-bacterial and cold and flu fighting properties to this soup. phew!
Talking about the health properties of foods sometimes make us feel like it is the only reason we should bother eating them. But rest assured, friends, I would never suggest to eat anything that doesn’t taste amazing! These healthful ingredients I’ve been focussing on these past weeks are all full of wonderful flavours, and are all worth eating in their own right! There’s nothing better for the body and soul than eating something delicious, nourishing and satisfying… Or should I say “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”? xx
Titbit: Saffron (crocus sativus) is a purple flowering plant from the iris family, whose flowers each hold three red stigmas (threads) that are harvested for use as a spice. Saffron was originally grown for use as a clothing dye – the prized alfa-crocin (a compound that gives the spice its golden hue) has since been found to also contain anti-oxidant, anti-depressant, and anti-cancer properties. When used in food, saffron has a bittersweet taste and heady fragrance, lending itself to a variety of dishes from Spainish paella to Indian kulfi. Native to South West Asia, Saffron is the worlds most expensive spice due to its high labor and low yield – it takes 4,500 flowers to make one ounce of saffron spice.
Everyday Lentil Soup with Saffron Yoghurt
Use a lentil that holds its shape through cooking such as French green (Puy style) or black beluga lentils. Use your favourite unflavoured /unsweetened yoghurt here. I strongly encourage you to finish your soup with the olive oil I’ve mentioned below – pulses need that extra fat to really make them sing. Once again a note to say I am a chilli wuss, add extra cayenne if you desire. This is a super versatile recipe, and can be adapted to what spices, greens and herbs you have on hand and topped with a variety of garnishes besides my favourite saffron yoghurt – see suggestions below recipe.
I first started making saffron yoghurt to garnish lentil soups after seeing this recipe by Heidi Swanson.
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 30 min
Everyday Lentil Soup
220g | 1 cup french green or black lentils * See note
180g | 1 large onion, roughly chopped
60ml | 3 tbls olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt + more to taste
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1.5 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (+ more if you like it a little hotter)
800ml tomato passata | 2 x 400g tins of crushed tomatoes
250ml | 1 cup vegetable stock
2 handfuls of leafy greens, shredded (I used silverbeet)
Fresh dill or coriander (cilantro), to finish
Ground black pepper, to taste
a pinch of saffron threads
1 tbls boiling water
150g | 1/2 cup plain coconut yoghurt (or favourite unsweetened yoghurt)
salt and black pepper, to taste
Cook the lentils in plenty of boiling water till cooked through but still holding their shape, about 20 min. Drain and set aside.
Make the yoghurt by soaking the saffron with the boiling water in a small bowl for a few min, before mixing in the yoghurt and seasoning to taste. Set aside.
Meanwhile, fry the onion with 2 tbls of the olive oil and the salt in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook till golden and fragrant, about 5 min. Add the garlic and spices and cook for 1 min longer, before add the tomato and stock. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer until your lentils are ready.
Add the lentils and bring back to the boil before adding the greens and cooking till just wilted, about 3-4 min. Taste and season with more salt if desired, and plenty of ground black pepper.
Serve with a big dollop of saffron yoghurt, a drizzle of the remaining olive oil and the fresh dill/coriander leaves.
I love to serve it with a side of paprika and cumin seed roasted potatoes or some crusty sourdough bread. Any leftovers will keep covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days. Freezes well without the yoghurt.
Use whatever leafy greens you have available and serve with or without the saffron yoghurt. You can also rework the flavour of the soup by adjusting the spices and toppings, such as: replacing the cumin and ground coriander with 1/2 tsp dried thyme and topping it with chopped olives, basil pesto or sun cashew parmesan. OR adding chopped preserved lemons and topping with fresh coriander (cilantro) or chermoula. OR replacing the spices with grated ginger root and turmeric, and topping with fresh coriander (cilantro). OR topping if with grilled or roasted eggplant etc etc…