Sunday, May 26, 2013

Red Lentil Soup with Fried Tofu and Chilli Oil for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Once again, I was seduced into making a soup by the toppings. In this case it was the chunks of fried tofu and drizzle of chilli oil on top of Yotam Ottolenghi's red lentil soup. The man is a master at layering flavors and textures, and the chunks of firm tofu dredged in cornmeal and fried crispy on the outside may just be a new favorite thing!

Red Lentil Soup with Fried Tofu and Chilli Oil
From Yotam Ottolenghi via The Guardian
(Serves 4)

About 250ml (about 1 cup total) sunflower or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
20g (1.5 Tbsp) chopped fresh ginger

3/4 tsp each ground cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom and coriander
400ml (1 can) coconut milk
250g (one heaping cup) red lentils

shaved skin of ½ lemon, plus 80ml (1/3 cup) lemon juice
salt and white pepper
1 tsp cumin seeds
3/4 tsp pul biber (Turkish chilli flakes), or normal chilli flakes + pinch sweet paprika
50g (1.75 oz) corn flour
220 g (about 8 oz) firm tofu, cut into 3cm (about 1.25-inch) dice
3 tbsp freshly chopped coriander

Heat two tablespoons of sunflower oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and on medium-low heat sweat for eight minutes until soft. Add the garlic, ginger and ground spices, and cook, stirring, for eight minutes. 

Add 900ml (about 4 cups) water, the coconut milk, lentils and lemon skin (not the juice). Bring to a boil, then simmer until the lentils are soft, about 20 minutes. Remove the lemon skin, add one and a quarter teaspoons of salt and some white pepper, and blend until smooth. Taste and add more salt, if you like.

Pour another two tablespoons of oil into a small saucepan and heat. Add the cumin seeds and chilli flakes, and cook on low heat for a minute. Tip out into a heatproof bowl.

Wipe clean the saucepan and pour in enough oil to come 2cm (3/4-inch) up the sides. While the oil is heating up, mix the corn flour with a quarter-teaspoon of salt and some white pepper. Toss the tofu in the corn flour, shake off any excess and fry in batches until golden, about five minutes (the oil must be just hot enough gently to fry the tofu). Drain on kitchen towel and set aside somewhere warm.

To serve, heat up the soup, stir in the lemon juice and divide between four bowls. Top each with some fried tofu and a drizzle of the cumin and chilli oil, and finish with a sprinkling of coriander.

Notes/Results: Ottolenghi does it again. This is one of those recipes that goes from a good base red lentil soup with it's mix of spices, to pretty spectacular, with the addition of the chilli oil and the fried tofu chunks. The protein from both the tofu and lentils makes this vegan soup satisfy. The lemon juice adds the brightness earthy lentils need and the chilli oil adds a nice little kick at the end. Recipe instructions called for pureeing the soup until smooth but I just ran my immersion blender through it a few times and left it more chunky. I did press my tofu for about an hour before frying it up which I think makes the texture of the tofu chunks perfect--crispy on the outside and very creamy within. Make plenty of tofu chunks--it is hard to resist the warm bites while cooking it in batches. ;-) I would definitely make this again. 

This soup goes to Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs.

We have soups and salads waiting in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's take a look.

Janet of The Taste Space shares this colorful bowl of Mediterranean Artichoke, Chickpea and Spinach Soup--supported  by a pantry clean out and says, "The plan for now: use up the less-loved ingredients. The ones I can part with for a bit of time. Now I can strike these from my pantry: artichokes and olives. What could have been a boring vegetable stew was helped with said pantry items. Olives add the salty punch to this spring-like tomato stew with red pepper, mushrooms, artichokes and spinach.

Joanne of Eats Well With Others says, "This Sweet Pea Goat Cheese Gazpacho was another casualty of the Eats Well With Others fridge breakdown of 2013. I thought it was fine until I put it in a container to have at lunch for work...and when i went to eat it, it had bubbled up in the manner of a bread dough set out to rise. Not good.Luckily, I got to enjoy it a few times last week, certainly enough to tell you that it tastes like a breath of fresh air with a swirl of goat cheese. And how could that not be an awesome thing?"

Chef Mireille of Chef Mireille's Global Creations offers up a Roasted Cauliflower Grape Salad and says, "With summer approaching, comes the re-appearance of salad in every possible combination of ingredients. As I continue to discover Yotam Otollenghi with the I Heart Cooking Clubs, this cauliflower salad with grapes and cheese piqued my interest. ... I only made a few minor adjustments based on what I had on hand - exchanging pine nuts for hazelnuts, red wine vinegar for sherry vinegar and cilantro for parsley."

Brittany of Brittany Cooks shares this season-perfect  Avocado and Strawberry Salad with Honey Dressing and says, "Summer is a time for salad. Fresh beautiful produce is everywhere, and it's too enticing to pass up. ...  I forgot how sweet and juicy fresh strawberries are when they are in season. They are like candy, and I adore them. Speaking of candy, I added some candied pecans, which took it to a whole other level. With a sweet and sour dressing, this is probably one of my new favorite salads! Plus, look how pretty it is!!"

Pam of Sidewalk Shoes made this healthy Chicken Quinoa Salad and says, "Yes, it’s getting to be that time of year, where salads are becoming more and more frequent on the sidewalk shoes dinner table.  I had some leftover chicken, from my spatchcocking, and wanted to use it for dinner.  I thought about pasta, but then decided that after my birthday, Mr. Sidewalk Shoes birthday, and teacher appreciation week, a salad would help offset the 7.5 pounds that I gained!!! So guess what? I made one up.  AND it was good!  I know.  I was as shocked as you are.  It’s so easy, there really isn’t even a recipe – and would you expect anything more from me?

Thanks to everyone who joined in this week. If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the sidebar for all of the details.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend and Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. Pam Armstrong GreerMay 26, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    That is the best looking fried tofu!!

  2. Awesome. I was scouring mung bean recipes and bookmarked this one at the same time. Can't wait to try this one, too, now. :-)

  3. kitchen flavoursMay 26, 2013 at 9:22 PM

    A lovely dish! I should really use up the lentils that is hibernating in my pantry! Topping it with fried tofu looks really good to me! If I'm frying the tofu, a few would disappear too! :)

  4. I am so excited that that soup is an Ottolenghi!! The fried tofu on top makes for the perfect "croutons"!

  5. Ok, first I must say that I'm very impressed with your ability to make two dishes for potluck week! And lastly, you have totally sold me on this fried tofu. I'm gonna have to break down and try my hand at tofu soon. I starting to feel like I'm missing out on something yummy.

  6. I've never been a tofu fan, but those look so good I may just be tempted to try it!


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