Sunday, January 18, 2015

Ottolenghi's Thai Red Lentil Soup with Aromatic Chile Oil & Sugar Snap Peas for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

It's always a joy to cook the recipes of Yotam Ottolenghi, especially his soups which always have layers of flavor and unique toppings that set them off so well. This Thai Red Lentil Soup with Aromatic Chile Oil (from Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking From London's Ottolenghi) is a classic Ottolenghi recipe where the different components come together into soup perfection. Creamy, spicy Thai flavored soup, topped with the pleasing crunch and sweetness of sliced sugar snap peas and accented by a spicy and very aromatic chili oil.

*I made just a few small changes noted in red below.

Thai Red Lentil Soup with Aromatic Chile Oil
Slightly Adapted from Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

(Serves 4)
4 oz/120 g sugar snap peas
3 Tbsp sunflower oil (I used 2 Tbsp grapeseed oil)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced (1 1/2 cups/160 g)

1 1/2 Tbsp vegetarian red curry paste (I used 2 Tbsp as I increased liquid) 2 lemongrass stalks, gently bashed with a rolling pin 
4 fresh Kaffir lime leaves (or 12 dried)
1 1/4 cups/250 g red lentils
1 cup/250 ml coconut milk (I used an extra 3/4 cup coconut milk)
1 1/2 Tbsp lime juice

1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce (I used tamari)
1 cup/15 g cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

Chile-Infused Oil
3/4 cup/180 ml sunflower oil
1 banana shallot, or 2 regular shallots, coarsely chopped (1/2 cup/50 g)
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tsp peeled and coarsely chopped fresh ginger
1/2 red chile, coarsely chopped

1/2 star anise pod
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp tomato paste
grated zest of 1/2 small lemon

First make the chile oil. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small saucepan. Add the shallot, garlic, ginger, chile, star anise, and curry powder and fry over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the shallot is soft. Add the tomato paste and cook gently for 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining oil and the lemon zest and simmer very gently for 30 minutes. Leave to cool and then strain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve.

For the soup, bring a small pan of water to boil and throw in the sugar snap peas. Cook for 90 seconds, drain, refresh under cold water, and set aside to dry. Once cool, cut them on the diagonal into slices 1/16-inch/2-mm thick.
Heat the sunflower oil in a large pot and add the onion. Cook over low heat, with a lid on, for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the onion is completely soft and sweet. Stir in the red curry paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the lemongrass, lime leaves, red lentils, and 3 cups/700 ml water. (I used 4 cups water) Bring to a boil, turn down the heat to low, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the lentils are completely soft.
Remove the soup from the heat and take out and discard the lemongrass and lime leaves. Use a blender to process the soup until it is completely smooth. Add the coconut milk, lime juice, soy sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir. Return the soup to medium heat, and once the soup is almost boiling, ladle into bowls. Scatter the snap peas on top, sprinkle with cilantro, and finish with 1/2 teaspoon chile oil drizzled over each portion.

Notes/Results: Soup love! The creamy lentil base is just slightly spicy--a warm back of the throat, red curry heat. I slightly increased the amount of red curry I used because I increased the liquid in the lentil and added a little extra coconut milk to thin things out a bit. The chili-infused oil packs more heat, allowing you to spice things up to your taste. I was amazed by how just a half of a star anise pod added such pronounced star anise flavor to the oil. With the curry, ginger and garlic, it is a robust and complex chili oil and I look forward to drizzling onto other things (eggs come to mind). There are a couple of extra steps to making this soup with the chili oil and the sugar snap pea topping but otherwise it goes together quickly. I made my oil ahead of time--it keeps for a month in a sealed jar in the fridge, and I sliced my peas while finishing up a movie--easy peasy. This is a vegan soup that is perfect for anyone who likes good flavor--meat eater or not. The lentils make it satisfying. I would make it again.

This delicious soup is being linked to I Heart Cooking Clubs where this coming week is January Potluck--the time to make any Diana Henry dish or any recipe from one of our previous IHCC chefs--like Ottolenghi. You can see what dishes everyone made by checking out the picture links when the post goes live.

We have a couple of good friends and their dishes waiting in the Souper Sundays kitchen, let's have a look. 

Two soups from my pal Heather at girlichef. First this Yellow Split Pea and Smoked Turkey Soup. Heather says, "Although there is a cup of pureed pumpkin in this soup, it doesn't taste like pumpkin. It adds color, it adds nutrients, but it's content with a supporting role alongside the other veggies in the cast. This soup is really all about the earthy split peas, all gussied-up in a smoky wardrobe. Add some steaming flatbread hot from the oven, and this made a rib-sticking meal on a frigid afternoon. Delicious, hearty, even enticing enough to look forward to leftovers the next day."

Next Heather made Crockpot Black Bean Soup and says, "But tell me, do you ever let your slow cooker work its magic while you're nestled snugly in your warm bed? It's a whole 'nother level of happiness. The scent sort of envelopes the quiet house in a comforting blanket, and invokes good dreams. ... Just waking up to the smell of love (yes, homemade soup smells like love, people) is enough to put you in a good mood for the entire day. Today I offer you love in the form of black beans infused with the flavor of ham and sherry. Go forth and prosper!"

Janet from The Taste Space shares spicy Jamaican Jerk Plantain Soup and says, " is another bowl of a warm, vibrant soup/stew. Jamaican jerk inspired with allspice and thyme (and also cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg) with colourful red bell peppers, yellow plantains and chickpeas with a sprinkle of green onions swimming in a fragrant coconut broth. This is not a hot and spicy soup (like most things jerk), so add as much heat as you like. Are you already longing for the summer?" 


It's Chicken Waldorf Salad from Pam at Sidewalk Shoes made with her weekly rotisserie roast chicken. Pam says, "When I opened up the produce drawer and saw some grapes left in a bag from a previous recipe, I immediately settled on a Waldorf Salad.  I always have apples and I had some leftover candied walnuts from my Vanilla Yogurt Panna Cotta with Candied Walnuts.  If you don’t have any candied walnuts, you can use regular walnuts, but the candied were so good!  I think my chicken salad Sundays started off right….any suggestions for next Sunday??"

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.

Have a happy, healthy week! 



  1. Oh, that soup wounds amazing...I love lentils, and I bet they make a nice, hearty base. Plus, spicy curry - pass me a big bowl!

  2. I can't wait to try this, Ottolenghi never fails to amaze me --- and I can think of a million ways to enjoy that chile oil!

  3. lots of steps but they sound worth all the work!

  4. Deb, this dish looks absolutely fabulous! I love lentil soup, anytime! :)

  5. DROOLING. This is definitely the Plenty More recipe that I'm making next!

  6. That sound like a fantastic soup! I haven't cooked much from his latest book but I think this recipe is next.

  7. Hi Deb,
    You always make the most delicious soups!
    This soup looks so delicious! The red lentils, creamy coconut with the herbs and spice, already sounds so good!

  8. I think this soup would definitely help me with my growing like (not love - we're not there yet) of lentils.

  9. Your soup looks glorious. I really need to find his latest cookbook. :)

  10. Couscous & ConsciousnessJanuary 24, 2015 at 10:26 PM

    You're right - it is always a joy to cook Ottolenghi's dishes, and this soup looks fabulous - wonderful, warming flavours. I so need to get a copy of Plenty More,

  11. This dish, and the infused oil you made, sound so delicious! And thanks for sharing the other sites!

  12. I received Plenty More a couple weeks ago and immediately tagged this soup to make. I love how creamy it looks and I also love all the vibrant green snap peas on top! As soon as I can source out some red lentils I'm going to make this one. Looks gorgeous, Deb!

    I'm digging Pam's Chicken Waldorf Salad too. I love candied walnuts and fruit mixed into my chicken salad.


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