During these times many of us have found cooking to be even more comforting than usual.
Recipe: Belinda Jeffrey
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1 small red chilli, finely chopped, optional
1½ heaped teaspoons ground cumin
1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons harissa
1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato pesto (or regular tomato paste)
1¼ kg carrots, peeled and fairly finely sliced
1 x 400g can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons raw sugar
150g red lentils, thoroughly washed
2–3 teaspoons sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Approx. 1½ litres (6 cups) cool water
Juice ½–1 lemon (or lime), to taste
1 x 270ml can coconut cream
Warm the olive oil in a very large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli and cook them, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Now add the ground spices, harissa, and tomato pesto and cook them, stirring all the while, for another minute or so.
Tip in the carrots and lentils and give them a good swish around so they’re coated in the spicy mixture. Finally, add the tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper and water. Increase the heat to high and bring the soup to the boil, then reduce the heat to low so it bubbles gently. Partly cover the pan and cook the soup for about one hour, or until the carrot is tender.
Allow it to cool slightly then puree the soup in batches in a blender, or with a stick blender. Gently re-heat it then stir in the lemon (or lime) juice and coconut cream, reserving a spoonful for garnishing. Taste the soup and add more salt or lemon juice if necessary.
To serve the soup, ladle it into warm bowls, with reserved coconut cream on top, freshly ground black pepper and a few tiny herb (eg chervil) sprigs.