After his travels to Morocco, my brother brought me back two bags of traditional spice blends from a spice market in Marrakesh. I used ½ tsp of each of these blends in this soup. My brother can no longer remember which spices were in the blend, as they were scooped out from a large drum and placed in to bags for him. So I have never known exactly what is in it but it smells delicious!
A mixture of the most common and best available spices sold by each vendor is widely available in Morocco, named ‘Ras el hanout’ meaning ‘best of the shop’. I can detect cumin, chilli and turmeric in my bag of ‘Ras el hanout’ and the other ground powder definitely has lemon. Preserved lemon is a common ingredient in Moroccan cooking but I have never seen it in a powdered spice blend so who knows what actualy went in to my soup but it tasted great! Some of the traditional spices used in Moroccan cooking are turmeric, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, chilli, fenugreek, cardamom, nutmeg, anise and saffron, so have a go at making your own blend according to your own tastes!
Lentils are a great base for a vegetable soup as they add protein, fibre, potassium, magnesium and iron to bulk up the nutritional content. If you make a batch to store in the fridge and eat over several days, the lentils may eventually turn the soup into a thicker Indian dahl like consistency, but a good stir or a dash of water before re-heating will return it’s liquid texture. Serves 4 – 6
- 2 cups red lentils
- 1 large onion
- 2 medium carrots
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tin tomatoes
- Moroccan spices to taste
Chop the onions and garlic. I grated the carrots roughly but you can chop them also if you would like the soup to be more chunky. There is no need to peel the carrots, a lot of the nutrients are just under the skin! Fry the onions off for several minutes in a large saucepan, then add the garlic, carrots, tin of tomatoes and lentils. Pour in 750ml boiling water to start with. If during cooking you desire a more liquid consistency, you can add more water to taste. I added a little more towards the end. Season well with salt and pepper, and add the spice blend of your choice. Bring to the boil and then simmer on a medium-low heat for about 30 minutes. When the soup has finished cooking, you can serve it as is, or blend to achieve a less chunky, smoother consistency. I ate this for my lunch in work topped with chia seeds for extra nutrients and wheat free multi seed bread.
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