Autumn is well and truly here, so we're swapping salads for hearty soups for our go-to lunches. This carrot soup is full of spices to make it a perfect winter warmer recipe, whilst the lentils will keep you full until dinner.
Revered for centuries for their health-giving properties, spices play a big part in my cooking. One of my most favourite blends is panch phoran, a Bengali spice mix that literally means ‘five spices’. The fragrant combination of fennel seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek, black mustard seeds and nigella/charnushka seeds adds a great base note to this nutritious golden soup. It comes topped with a cashew cream, but is equally good with a spoonful of thick live natural yogurt.
1 tablespoon ghee or coconut oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 large carrots, about 600 g/1 lb. 5 oz., diced
1 large celery stick, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons panch phoran
5-cm/2-in. piece root ginger, coarsely grated
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
140 g/heaped 2⁄3 cup dried split red lentils, rinsed
4 cardamom pods, bruised
1⁄2 teaspoon dried chilli/red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 litre/4 cups hot vegetable stock
1 tablespoon lemon juice
sea salt and cracked black pepper
broccoli sprouts, to serve
70 g/1⁄2 cup cashew nuts
5 tablespoons milk of choice, plus extra if needed
Low 6–8 hours / High 4–5 hours
Heat the ghee or coconut oil in a saucepan, add the onion and sauté for 8 minutes until softened. Add the carrots, celery, panch phoran, ginger and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally for another 2 minutes.
Transfer the onion mixture to the slow cooker pot, stir in the lentils, cardamom, chilli/red pepper flakes, turmeric and stock. Cover and cook on low for 6–8 hours, or high for 4–5 hours, until the lentils and carrots are tender.
Meanwhile, make the cashew cream. Put the cashew nuts in a bowl, cover with just-boiled water and leave to soak for 1 hour until softened. Drain the nuts and tip them into a food processor or blender with the milk of your choice. Blend, occasionally scraping the mixture down the sides, until a thick, creamy consistency – add a splash more milk, if needed. Spoon the cream into a bowl and chill until ready to serve.
Remove the cardamom pods from the soup – very conveniently they rise to the surface – and using a stick blender, blend until thick and smooth. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with a spoonful of the cashew cream and a few broccoli sprouts.
For more winter warmer recipes, check out Superfood Slow Cooker.