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Spiced Lentil Soup with Parsley Cream

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Serves: 6

5ml / 1 tsp cumin seeds
2.5ml / 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
5ml / 1 tsp ground turmeric
30ml / 2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 smoked bacon hock
1.2 litres / 2 pints vegetable stock
275g / 10 oz red lentils
400g / 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
15ml / 1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 shallots, thinly sliced

For the parsley cream:
45ml / 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
150ml / 1/4 pint Greek yogurt
salt and ground black pepper


Heat a frying pan and add the cumin and coriander seeds. Roast them over a high heat for a few seconds, shaking the pan until they smell aromatic. Transfer to a mortar and crush using a pestle. Mix in the turmeric. Set aside. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 4-5 minutes, until softened.

Add the spice mixture and cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Place the bacon in the pan and pour in the stock. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Add the red lentils and cook for 20 minutes or until the lentils and bacon hock are tender. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Remove the bacon from the pan and set it aside until cool enough to handle. Leave the soup to cool slightly, then process in a food processor or blender until almost smooth. Return the soup to the rinsed-out pan. Cut the meat from the hock, discarding skin and fat, then stir it into the soup and reheat.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the shallots for 10 minutes until crisp and golden. Remove using a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. To make the parsley cream, stir the chopped parsley into the yogurt and season well. Ladle the soup into bowls and add a dollop of the parsley cream to each. Pile some crisp shallots on to each portion and serve at once.

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