A comforting soup to welcome the change of season, but with a nod to summer just gone by in the way of crispy eggplant. It makes a lovely contrast to the creaminess of the soup.
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- sea salt
- 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 3 cm piece of ginger, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and roughly ground
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and roughly ground
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
- ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
- 200 g red split lentils, washed
- 200 g canned whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 litre chicken stock
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 small eggplant (about 200 g), cut into 1.5 cm cubes
- vegetable oil, for shallow-frying
- plain full-fat yoghurt
- coriander leaves
- roughly chopped toasted walnuts lemon wedges
- extra-virgin olive oil
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
1. Warm the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Add the onion, carrot and a pinch of salt and cook for 10–15 minutes until the onion has softened and is just beginning to colour. Increase the heat to medium. Add the garlic, ginger and spices and cook for around 2 minutes until the spices are fragrant. Add the lentils and stir to coat them in all of the spices and aromatics.
2. Pour in the tomatoes and chicken stock and simmer for 45 minutes or until the lentils are soft, stirring occasionally to stop them catching. Squeeze in the lemon juice, then, using a hand-held blender, roughly puree the soup.
3. Meanwhile, for the eggplant, combine the flour, cumin and salt in a small bowl. Toss the eggplant in the seasoned flour and shake off any excess. Heat 2 cm of oil in a small saucepan or frying pan over a medium heat and fry the eggplant in batches until golden and soft on the inside. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
4. Ladle the soup into bowls, top with some yoghurt, the fried eggplant and some coriander, walnuts, a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil.
A Year of Simple Family Food by Julia Busuttil Nishimura, Published by Plum, RRP $39.99, Photography by Armelle Habib.