I know Cairo is normally not associated with comfort and calm – but this soup really embodies both Cairo and comfort for me. The last few days I have been feeling stress-in-anticipation. Tonight we visit the secondary school we hope Aars will go next year. I am anxious about their approach to managing anaphylaxis and severe food allergies – especially in their cooking classes and canteen…Tomorrow we are back at the hospital for another challenge day – peanuts! So there is quite a bit of nervous energy/STRESS hanging about me!
I need calming, comforting food; happily found in one delightful, very autumnal, cosy soup from my childhood in Cairo – lentil soup. It is argued by some Egyptians that this is “The Soup” Joseph sold his birth-right for – I know nor care not, but totally understand why they think it’s the one! This soup is lush. I add cayenne pepper as I like the little bit of heat it adds, but as a child we were always given it with just cumin flavouring the oil.
Cairo Comfort (Lentil) Soup – Ingredients
olive oil, cumin powder, cayenne pepper, onion, celery, carrot, red split lentils, tomato paste, veg stock, salt, pepper, fresh lemon
Cairo Comfort (Lentil) Soup – Process – makes 4-6 bowls depending on how greedy you are/how big your bowls are!
- Chop the following:
- 1 big white onion
- 1 big stick of celery
- 1 large carrot
- Rinse ¾ lb dry red split lentils and leave to drain.
- In a heavy based pan pour in a small amount of olive oil add:
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper allow to heat and emit their fragrance
- Saute the chopped onion, celery and carrot in the oil for about 7 mins
- stir in:
- ¾ lb dry red split lentils so they are covered in the spice and flavour
- 1 Tbs tomato paste
- When these start to stick to the pan add:
- 3 pints of veg stock (I use Swiss Bullion as it is fast, easy and tasty)
- Stir in and then boil until the lentils go soft 20-30 mins
- 1 lemon – (squeeze in it’s juice)
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- Pour into bowl
- I squeeze a bit more lemon juice on top along with a grind of salt and pepper
- Get comfy and enjoy this thick, colourful, comforting soup