Red Lentil and Bulgur Soup

This is an astonishing soup; lentils, rice and bulgur wheat are not exactly exciting ingredients on their own, but here the alchemy that occurs between them is unbelievable. It isn’t even that it is heavily spiced to bring the flavour in, the aromatics here are only garlic, paprika, a little chilli and some dried mint, it’s just magical.

I have heard it said, many times, that making soup is the absolute best way to learn about flavour; this soup proves it, and the drizzle that goes over the top hammers the point home even more forcefully.

Warming, filling and deeply satisfying, this soup goes perfectly with Pide bread or Middle-Eastern focaccia.


RECIPE – serves 4 to 6 people

3 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

2 tbsp sweet smoked paprika

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

2 tbsp tomato puree

200ml passata

250g red lentils, rinsed

50g basmati rice, rinsed

1.5 litres vegetable stock

50g bulgur wheat, toasted

1 1/2 tbsp dried mint

1 tsp salt

For the topping:

2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1 tsp sweet smoked paprika

1 tsp dried mint

a small pinch of chilli flakes


Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and add the onion, cook for 5-10 minutes until softened then add the garlic, paprika and chilli flakes and cook for a further minute or so. Add the passata and tomato puree and stir thoroughly. Add the lentils, rice and stock, bring to the boil then simmer for 25 minutes until the lentils are very soft and pulpy.

Meanwhile, toast the bulghur wheat, full instructions for doing so are here.

Add the toasted bulgur wheat and dried mint, and cook for a further ten minutes until the bulgur has softened, then add the salt and check and adjust the seasoning.

Add the paprika, mint and chilli flakes to the melted butter, serve the soup in warmed bowls and drizzle a little of the infused butter over the top. To make this vegan, use warmed olive oil instead of melted butter.

Prepare to be amazed!

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