Sunday, October 5, 2014

(An Amazing) Moroccan Lentil Soup with Yogurt & Chilli-Fried Onions from Diana Henry for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

There's a new chef in town at I Heart Cooking Clubs. This week we will start six months of cooking with Diana Henry. A UK-based cook, food writer and cookbook author with global influences. I bought her book Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons in my pre-blogging days, attracted to her Middle Eastern and Mediterranean recipes. It's become a habit for me to start my cooking with a new IHCC chef with a bowl of soup. It's warm, it's welcoming, and I find that if a cook can make a great and memorable bowl of soup, the rest of their recipes usually follow suit. I came across Henry's Moroccan Lentil Soup with Yogurt & Chilli-Fried Onions on her website and knew it had to be my 'Welcome Diana Henry!' dish.  

I like the healthy comfort of a good lentil soup and I have a container of ras el hanout* that doesn't get used nearly enough, not to mention my deep love for soup toppings. Chilli-fried onions and cool, creamy yogurt? Yes please! It looked like the perfect soup to start off our cooking time with and served with some grilled naan, a satisfying meal. 

*Ras el hanout is a North-African spice mix that means "head of the shop"--signifying that it is a mixture of the best spices the spice merchant has to sell. It usually contains a combination of cardamom, cloves, ground cinnamon, coriander, ground chilli peppers, cumin, paprika, turmeric and other spices.

Henry says, "If you don’t want to make the chilli onions, add 2 chopped, deseeded chillies to the soup, or some harissa to taste, instead."
Moroccan Lentil Soup with Yogurt & Chilli-Fried Onions
Adapted from
(Serves 8)

3 Tbsp olive oil (I reduced to 1 1/2 Tbsp)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1/2 Tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp ras al hanout
280g (10 oz) red lentils
400g (14 oz) can chopped tomatoes (I used fire-roasted)
1.2 litres (2 pints) chicken stock or water (I used mock-chicken stock)
salt and pepper
6 Tbsp roughly chopped coriander, plus extra to garnish for the chilli-fried onions

Chilli-Fried Onions:
2 onions, very finely sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil (I used 1 Tbsp)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp soft brown sugar
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
juice of 1/2 small lemon

Heat the oil in a heavy pan and sauté the onion and celery until soft but not colored. Add the garlic and spices and cook for 1 minute, then add the remaining soup ingredients apart from the coriander. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until the lentils become a purée. Season and stir in the chopped coriander.

To make the chilli-fried onions, quickly fry the sliced onions in very hot olive oil until golden brown with crispy bits. Add the cinnamon, sugar and chilli. Stir and, once the sugar has melted, add the lemon juice and season. Serve the soup in hot bowls with a dollop of yogurt and the chilli-fried onions. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Notes/Results: The layers of flavor in this bowl soup are amazing--there is the slight smokiness of the cumin, the aromatic and slight sweetness or the coriander and ras el hanout blend--the soup is quite good on its own. But, add on those toppings and things get even more interesting with the cool tangy yogurt and those delectable onions--sweet and spicy. When the onions stir into the soup, their sweetness spreads into each bite. (You could of course omit the yogurt or use a non-dairy yogurt if you want to make it vegan or dairy-free.) One of the best lentil soups I have made and although thinly slicing (I used my mandoline) and frying up the onions is a little extra effort, it is well worth it--don't leave them out. I did reduce the oil--just something I do in most recipes to reduce the calories and fat, and I don't think it suffered for it. Otherwise, this recipe needed no adjustments. It is a warming bowl of soup to curl up to and makes the kitchen smell wonderfully exotic. Well done Diana Henry--this one is a keeper and I can tell we are going to have a fun six months. 

I'll be linking up this wonderful soup to IHCC as soon as the 'Welcome Diana Henry!' post goes live. I Heart Cooking Clubs offers a new chef to cook with every six months, fun weekly themes, an ability to drop in-and-out as your time allows, and a monthly Potluck event where you can cook any recipe from any of our ten previous chefs. It's a fun group, I hope you consider joining us.  

A couple of friends are hanging out in the Souper Sundays kitchen with me--let's see what they brought.

Tigerfish of Teczcape - An Escape to Food is here and says, "Kale, Tomatoes, Mushrooms Soup is made by adding kale to a soup cooked with onions, garlic, ginger, tomato and mushrooms mixture of beech mushrooms and thinly sliced oyster mushroom). Add any kind of noodles you prefer, to make it one-dish. By using mung bean noodles (or glass noodles), the soup broth remains clear and light. If you use wheat-type noodles, the soup may just slightly thicken up due to the starch in the noodles."

Debbie of The Friday Friends returns this week with a Taco Soup by her friend Shelly Noble and says, "The Handyman and I love a good bowl of soup!  And this one is souper easy. And souper good! Shelly turned in a simple Crock-pot recipe because she says  she likes easy things. I love to use my crockpot and come home to a house filled with great aromas. That's just what you do with this soup. Fix it in the morning, leave for the day (or stay home and read a book), eat in the evening."

Janet of The Taste Space shares zesty Mexican Spinach Salad with Salsa Baked Tofu and says, "I just might need a very pretty picture to knock me out of a bloggers block. A simple recipe, I really only gave directions for the salsa baked tofu and told you what else I included in my salad. No measuring, just plating and eating. I tried a bit harder to make this salad pretty. It is kind of a cross between my quick and easy salsa chickpea tacos and my older Mexican salad with a creamy tomato saucy dressing with a little old school baked tofu. Yum!"

Thanks to Tigerfish, Debbie and Janet for joining 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. I hope to try this, I also have some ras el hanout that needs using :)

  2. www.teczcape.blogspot.comOctober 5, 2014 at 5:50 PM

    The chili-fried onions is definitely a great touch to this hearty lentil soup!

  3. www.teczcape.blogspot.comOctober 5, 2014 at 6:43 PM

    The chili-fried onions is definitely a great touch to this hearty lentil soup!

  4. Why yes I WOULD love a big bowl of this! Also off to check amazon for some diana henry books...I see a shopping spree in my future. :P

  5. I love Diana Henry - I will have to play along this round!

  6. Gluten Free A-Z BlogOctober 6, 2014 at 7:02 AM

    I don't knowDiana Henry but I think I'm in love. What a fabulous soup and your description makes me want to make some right now.

  7. I love lentil soup and this one sounds so flavourful! Another recipe flagged (I'm going to need more than 6 months to make them all!)!

  8. This is such a lovely soup. I can "see" all the flavours in that bowl! We love crispy onions, I always have a jar in my pantry, we use it a lot in noodle soups. I have never tried adding the spices and sugar to it though, interesting and sounds really delicious! A wonderful delicious choice to kick-start our six months with Diana Henry!

  9. I like lentils, a great warming soup for the first cold evenings in autumn here.

  10. Couscous & ConsciousnessOctober 12, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    Sensational, Deb. This is a totally memorable soup, and a wonderful way to welcome our new chef. Great flavourings, that would be perfect for a cool autumn evening.

  11. Lentils make great soup!

  12. Grace-Life can be simpleOctober 16, 2014 at 8:45 PM

    Deb, I have to confess that I've never made a lentil soup before. But I'm keen to try one after seeing your delish picture. Yours look really good!! Yumms :) Definitely perfect for autumn!

  13. I have learned to love lentils and this looks wonderful. I have never seen ras al hanout anywhere but I did find a fairly simple recipe. Thanks for sharing.


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