Roasted Squash and Lentil Soup

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Turkish lentil soup or mercimek çorbasi is one of those dishes that reminds me of being a kid. A sick kid come to think of it. My mum used to always make this for my sisters and I when we were feeling ill. Maybe that’s why I love it so much because it was always served with buttery toast and lots of sympathy? Anyway, it was and still is one of my favourite, most comforting things to eat. My mum’s version is the best although I do love to squeeze loads of extra lemon on top of mine. This Instagram post seemed to be a big hit recently with lots of lovely feedback from people that tried it out and loved it so I thought I’d share the recipe here. It’s just so easy and tasty, all year round in my opinion but especially now that it is much colder.

Not that mercimek çorba needs any pimping (it’s a world of goodness for the soul all on its own), this roasted squash alternative, if you will, brings this humble soup recipe to a whole new level. If you are 1 or 2 persons I advise making this whole batch as its keeps in the fridge for a few days.

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Roasted Squash and Lentil Soup

Serves 6-8

You will need:

1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes

1 large carrots, peeled and halved

2 onions, peeled and quartered

4 cloves of garlic, peeled

Handful of thyme

Olive oil

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp smoked paprika

200g red lentils

2 litres of bone broth or chicken or vegetable stock

Juice of 1 lemon

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

To garnish:

Crème fraîche

Hemp seeds

Garden cress

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Toss all of the prepared vegetables and sprigs of thyme into a large roasting tray, drizzle generously with some good olive oil and season with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Roast in the oven for approximately 45 minutes, turning halfway through, until all of the vegetables are soft and have begun to singe and caramelise on the edges.

When the roasted vegetables have about 20 minutes left to cook, you can make a start on the lentils. Place a large, heavy-based saucepan on a medium heat and add a glug of olive oil. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the garam masala, cumin, cayenne, coriander and paprika and stir with a wooden spoon for about a minute. Add the lentils and continue to stir and cook for a further minute until all the lentils are coated in the spices and oil. Pour in your stock, increase the heat to high and bring the lentils to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat back down to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes.

At this stage your roasted vegetables should be ready. Add the entire contents of the roasting tray to the lentils, sprigs of thyme and all, pour in the lemon juice, stir well to combine and cover and cook for a further 10 minutes to allow the vegetables to take on the flavour of all of the spices. Once the soup is ready set it aside to cool for about half an hour.

You can use a hand blender or a regular blender to purée the soup, although you may need to do it in batches if using the latter. Once the soup has been blitzed and is completely smooth, taste it and season well with sea salt and cracked black pepper. To garnish, sprinkle over some hemp seeds and garden cress and a generous dollop of crème fraîche

Lovely served with sliced, crusty bread, toasted with grated gruyère cheese!

Here’s me perfecting the dollop! All in a days work…

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These images are the result of another inspiring collaboration with Holly {Avenue Lifestyle}. We headed to Belgium together to meet Christian Kocx, owner of online shop Mooi Goed (selling contemporary design home accessories), to shoot his stunning home. Well Holly did that part, I tucked myself away in the kitchen roasting veggies and making soup. You can read all the lovely things Holly wrote about this soup here, she’s a keeper that one. Thank you Christian and family for letting me take over your kitchen and Holly your house!

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Hope you like this one! x

CREDITS | Images Holly Marder {Avenue Lifestyle}

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Pick Your Own

Food is like magic, it has this way of transporting you back in time. Back to when you first encountered ‘that’ smell or taste, where you were and who you were with. Two of my earliest memories are food related, the first when I was three.

My mum and dad used to own a grocery store in Nunhead (South East London) and we used to live above it. Since I was able to walk, if the shop was busy or dad was at the market mum would have to serve the customers and I would play in the shop in amongst all the fruit and veg. Always curious and not a fussy child I used to eat everything I could get my hands on (this hasn’t changed). Partly because I was surrounded by it and partly my parents influence and their Turkish Cypriot roots, for which today I am very grateful. I adored fresh figs, the green ones, chewing on artichoke leaves and peeling juicy medlars, they were my favourite. I also loved prickly pears. Too young to understand what the name meant, I only ever saw them peeled and used to devour them along with everything else I was given, until this one day my small, curious, three year old hand decided to pick one up, skin on. I soon found out where the name prickly pear came from and mum assures me I screamed the place down whilst being sat on my dad’s knee as he plucked out the cactus prickles with tweezers, ouch! 

The second early memory I have is going fruit picking with my family, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. A weekly tradition in the warmer months, we’d pack a barbecue and a picnic and then cook and eat whatever it was we had just picked, straight from farm to table. For anyone not familiar with a ‘pick your own’ farm, basically you go along for free and pick whatever they have, all organic and seasonal and then you pay for what you’ve picked on the way out. Beats the supermarket any day of the week.

As kids we’d slowly make our way along the rows and rows of fruit, baskets dragging along the ground because they were almost bigger than us, filling them with the biggest and best strawberries, raspberries, plums we could find, comparing along the way to see who had picked the biggest one. 

Last weekend I was home for a few days so dad and I got to take my grandad and we brought my nephew along for his first time. I can’t explain in words how surreal it was to be back there as an adult, watching my grandad smiling at the size of the runner beans, scouring the plants and leaning right in to pick the biggest ones from the back. Laughing my nephew pulling faces tasting a sour, unripe plum, watching him get lost in a corn field twice the size of him and then eating a raw corn on the cob straight out of the husk, so juicy it tastes like it has been cooked. My dad was in his element. It brought back so many memories from my childhood and made me realise how lucky we were growing up as kids to have this appreciation of where our food came from, to understand what it looked and tasted like growing, whole and raw and also where my love of food has come from, the start of my food journey. IMG_2983 IMG_2969IMG_2987IMG_2992IMG_2996IMG_2997IMG_2998