Spiced tomato and lentil soup recipe

The humble split red lentil, cheaper than chips, cooked here with spices and store cupboard staple tinned tomatoes. I’ve accessorised this soup with a snazzy mix of roasted pumpkin and cumin seed oil, crumbled salty feta, sharp, fruity pomegranate molasses and a good pinch of dried chilli flakes, and I like Turkish Aleppo or Urfa best of all.


Prep time: 10 minutes 

Cooking time: 25 minutes 




  • 250g red lentils
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 2 celery sticks, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 400g tinned plum tomatoes

To garnish

  • 50g pumpkin seeds
  • 1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g feta, roughly crumbled
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • Dried chilli flakes, to taste
  • Good bread – toasted pitta is ideal – to serve


  1. Rinse the red lentils in cold running water, then drain.
  2. In a pan over a moderate heat, cook the onions and celery in the oil for about 10 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and cook for two minutes more. Add the spices and stir to toast. Add the lentils and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add a litre of cold water and bring to the boil. Season well.
  3. Reduce to a moderate heat and cook for about 30 minutes, until the lentils have collapsed. Add more boiling water if you would like a thinner soup.
  4. Remove from the heat and blend half the soup, adding the blended portion back to the pan and stirring well to mix. Check the seasoning.
  5. Fry the pumpkin seeds and cumin seeds in the olive oil until just beginning to pop. Add a good pinch of salt and remove from the heat.
  6. To each bowl of soup add a spoonful of the toasted pumpkin and cumin seed oil, some crumbled feta, a drizzle of the pomegranate molasses and a big pinch of chilli flakes.

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