Carrot, Cumin & Red Lentil Soup with Hazelnut Dukkah.
A cosy, aromatic bowlful where the toppings are just as important as the soup itself.
Happy Halloween! This month on ingredient we’re focusing on carrots: we’ve all got them in the fridge, but how often do we use them to make something where carrot is king rather than simply using them as the base for something else?
You can already find the recipe for my Sri Lankan-inspired Carrot Salad here, and a guide to shrubs: what these delicious drinking vinegars are and how to make any shrub (including a carrot and ginger one!) here. Do upgrade your subscription to unlock every recipe in the ingredient archive, and of course to help funding the free part of what I post here! No creative likes asking for money, but without it ingredient can’t function.
Last week I was pretty fed up. I’ve got one of those recipe development clients at the moment who keeps demanding I perform the culinary equivalent of developing a square peg which will fit perfectly in a round hole, which comes with the added consequence that I’m not finding much joy in the kitchen as of late.
All that changed with this soup.
I had something else planned as the final recipe of carrot month (as you know my adventures in shrub making hardly went as planned) but I decided to scrap it at the last minute and make something I actually wanted to eat for lunch, in case it was a bowlful of what you wanted to eat too.
Let us start with the soup: Aleppo chilli and cumin are toasted at the start of cooking and then simmered into the soup for flavourful warmth, along with the smallest amount of turmeric to boost the wonderfully autumnal hue of the soup, and to lean into the slightly curried vibes. You’ll smell it as it simmers. Then, it’s thickened with lentils to continue leaning into that theme, creating a thick, hearty carrot soup that is enough to make a meal with or without the crusty bread I’d actually recommend serving with it, rather than the cold vegetable spring rolls I was in reality snaffling out of the fridge whilst I waited for something I needed to film before I could enjoy the soup that was blipping away to be ready.
But this soup is really all about the toppings. Both hazelnuts and coriander seeds are known, natural accompaniments to the humble carrot, so why not jazz it up a bit with a crunchy, aromatic dukkah whose flavours steep into the soup after sprinkling? I’ve also added more of the soup spices, and just a hint of cinnamon which is responsible for the incredible smell that will waft up at you the moment it hits the bowl.
In my mind a dollop of luxuriously thick Greek yogurt added in at the end (the proper stuff, not a low fat version) is essential as is the freshening zip of fresh lime squeezed over the top. It’s a trick I learned from J the first time we ate pancakes together: he eats them with sugar and lime, to what was my sugar and lemon. It turns out that in some contexts, you can’t tell the difference in actual flavour, but the lime will always be fresher, brighter, and bring more to the table when your tastebuds are searching for that pleasant hit of acidity.
Carrot, Cumin & Red Lentil Soup with Hazelnut Dukkah
Serves: 4, Preparation time: 15 minutes, Cooking time: 40 minutes
This soup freezes beautifully so feel free to scale up with abandon. Also, you’ll get a little more dukkah than you need with the below recipe, it is delicious sprinkled over yogurt and eggs in the morning and over the top of thick slices of toast slathered with hummus; if you’re as enamoured of it as I am scale it up and keep it for up to a month in an air tight tub or jar for other such ventures.
For the Carrot, Cumin & Red Lentil Soup