Lemony Lentil and Crispy Kale Soup

I love this simple soup, which is somewhere between a dhal and a soup – it reminds me of the curry that is served in southern India with dosas. This soup is cleansing and clean, thanks to being spiked with turmeric and a lot of lemon. It’s what I crave if I’ve over-indulged or been around food too long (an occupational hazard – a very nice one).

Turmeric is a favourite spice of mine. If I am feeling off-colour I stir a teaspoon into hot water and sip it as a reviving tonic. I love the vibrant, deep saffron-gold colour, the clean, sharp, savoury acid note and the hard- to-put-your-finger-on flavour. It’s a real star on the health front, as it is an anti-inflammatory and has anti-carcinogenic properties. What a spice.

Serves 4-6

a splash of olive or rapeseed oil
1 leek, washed, trimmed and finely sliced
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
juice of 2–3 lemons
250g split red lentils
1 veg stock cube, or 1 tablespoon veg stock powder
4 handfuls of kale (or other greens), washed, trimmed and shredded

To serve (optional)
yoghurt, stirred with a little sea salt

Get a large pan on the heat. Add a little oil and turn the heat to medium. Add the leek and fry for a few minutes, until it has softened and smells sweet, then add the spices and fry for another couple of minutes. Squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon and stir around to lift all the spices from the bottom of the pan.

Next, add the lentils, 1.5 litres of water and the stock cube or powder and allow to bubble away for 20–35 minutes, until the lentils are cooked and the soup has thickened.

Turn off the heat and, if you like, you can blitz the whole lot to a thin dhal consistency, then squeeze in the juice of the remaining 2 lemons, tasting as you go to make sure it doesn’t get too lemony. It may seem like a lot, but you really want the lemony tang to come through.

Just before you’re ready to serve, sauté the kale in a little olive oil until it slightly softens but begins to crisp at the edges.

Ladle into bowls and top with the salted yoghurt and the crispy kale.

Image: Brian W Ferry

Posted: 15.01.15 11 Comments


Posted by Jaana at 11:12 on the 13.07.15

Hi Anna, I am loving your cookbook. I have made your Dahl (amazing), raw Thai citrus salad and roasted squash with dukkah. All so delicious. I have just made your lemon lentil soup. Two questions. Is it supposed to be quite watery? I have blitzed in blender and still very watery. Perhaps this is the normal consistency? Also, would spinach work instead of kale? I live in Hong Kong and can’t find kale in the supermarket near me. Thanks. It tastes absolutely divine! x

Posted by Anna at 11:21 on the 13.07.15

Hi Jaana, thanks for your kind words. Spinach would be delicious yes. In terms of consistency, obviously depends what temp. etc you are using. I’d suggest cooking for longer if you like it thicker. This dish does vary in consistency – all about what you prefer really. Hope that helps. AJ x

Posted by Shelly at 10:35 on the 27.09.15

Dear Anna
I bought your books after buying New Roots & starting to eat in a Healthier way. My daughter & I love this recipe, cook it lots, even think about it lots, healthy tasty quick satisfying moreish, we cook it for 4 but scoff the lot between 2, mouth waters at the thought of it. It must be the best lentil soup ever!!

Posted by Anna at 11:43 on the 29.09.15

Thanks for your kind words Shelly, so pleased to hear you are enjoying the recipes. AJ x

Posted by Rosa Santilli at 9:11 on the 22.10.15

Made this soup last night for a friend and we loved it! Also made a couple of other dishes last week that had been in the Sainsbury’s magazine and they were totally delicious too! Thanks for making such inspired meat free dishes! Ordering the cook books today 🙂

Posted by Lindsay at 11:47 on the 26.08.16

Hi Anna, this recipe sounds delicious and after reading all the comments too it is definitely on my list to try; I am just wondering is the soup suitabel for freezing? x

Posted by sally at 12:05 on the 12.03.17

Hi Anna, love your recipes and have great success with them. A quick question on this one though.. it had a sort of metallic aftertaste which made it less enjoyable for me. Before I try it again, any ideas where I may have gone wrong ? Many thanks, Sally

Posted by Emily at 6:08 on the 15.01.18

Delicious soup! And the crispy kale on top is just the best! Can I freeze this as I’ve made a lot?!

Posted by Jimmy at 5:07 on the 19.12.18

First recipe I tried out of your book, and I’ve cooked it so many times my better half has had to nag me to try the others. I’ve been using split toor dal/pigeon peas, which take about 40 minutes of cooking, because we have a giant bag of it. Also, I started adding a few pan-roasted cumin seeds to the salted yogurt. Obsessed!

Posted by Hannah at 8:36 on the 15.11.22

Hi Anna, any tips on how I could make this in a slow cooker I.e. timings? Thank you 🙂

Posted by Vanessa at 2:51 on the 14.12.22

Hi Anna, love this recipe and have made it many times. Which cook book is it featured in because I’m about to buy it as a Christmas present and can’t remember which one I saw it in. Thank you!

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