Moroccan-spiced Carrot & Red Lentil Soup

I’ve been making a version of this soup for many years and it is my husband’s all-time favourite. I’ve tweaked the recipe over time to improve the nutritional balance (cue the lentils!). I absolutely love cooking with red lentils- they virtually disappear in dishes like soups (especially pureed ones), while providing a generous amount of protein and fibre.

Another non-negotiable component of this recipe is the garnish. Textural and temperature contrast from the garnishes make all the difference! Load up your bowl with crunchy toppings like nuts, seeds or roasted chickpeas, creamy and cool Greek yogurt or kefir, and a hit of fresh herbs, spices or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. I topped my soup with chopped pistachios, sesame seeds, plain Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of smoked paprika. I should also probably mention that aside from the taste and textural benefits, the garnish also amps up the nutrition (!!!), adding a boost of protein, calcium, vitamin D, fibre, omega-3s, etc…. the list goes on!

Bring your soups to a new level (and impress your family/ friends) with thoughtfully selected garnishes. Yum!!!!

2 tbsp. sesame seeds
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp. smoked paprika

1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, grated or minced
5 cups chopped carrots
1 cup red lentils
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1L no salt added vegetable stock (additional stock or water, as needed)
Salt and pepper, to taste

1) Heat a small frying pan over medium heat (do not add oil). Add the sesame seeds and toast until lightly golden, about 6-8 minutes. Watch them closely! Once they’re nearly done, add the spices (cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, smoked paprika). Heat the spices for about 2 minutes, until aromatic. Transfer the mixture to a coffee or spice grinder and pulse until it resembles a powder.

2) Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes. Add the spice mixture and stir to combine.

3) Add the red wine vinegar and stir to release any stuck-on bits from the bottom of the pot. Allow the vinegar to bubble away for a few minutes.

4) Add the vegetable stock, carrots and lentils and stir to combine. Add additional water to cover the veggies if needed. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for about 30-35 minutes, until the carrots and very tender and the lentils are cooked through. Check the soup every so often and add a bit more water or stock, as the lentils will absorb some as they cook.

5) Using an immersion blender, blend the soup to desired consistency. I like mine slightly chunky. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6) Serve! Don’t forget to garnish as desired!