Hot and Sour Lentil Soup

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This is the soup you want for lunch if you felt a cold coming on- it doesn’t look like much, but you can literally feel it cleanse your sinuses as you eat it, the lentils and spinach are soothing and nutritious and to top it off, I made it with homemade chicken stock too.

I’d wanted to make the pressure cooker lemony Lebanese lentil soup on the Mortgage Free in Three blog but I’m incapable of following a recipe exactly and as I was pulling ingredients out of the fridge, it occurred to me that what I really wanted was the lemony fragrance but enhanced with a really big hit of ginger and chilli (I threw some garlic in there for good measure too).  It was the right soup for what’s supposed to be the most depressing Monday of the year: bold, cheering, warm.

I made this in the pressure cooker with just 5 minutes cooking time at pressure, but you can simmer away on the hob for half an hour or so until the lentils are mushy.  Since it’s a thinner soup than I’d normally make, I wasn’t sure how many portions I’d get so I scooped out two mugfuls for a snack then froze in four tubs.  Turns out the soup is deceptively filling and I’d say there’s at least 6 portions in the recipe.

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EDIT: I decided to enter this into the Fabulous Fusion Food Challenge, run by Deena Kakaya at  On the challenge page, it says: Fusion may sound like a dirty word these days when it comes to food, but when it works…it really is a wonderful tidal wave of sensory pleasure! It is so exciting to have new flavours and tastes run around in our mouths and minds and using what we like from different parts of the world makes for an interesting plate of food. So whether its curried pasta, Mexican spiced stir fry or a pizza with samosa filling on top, they can all taste out of this world!

To fit in with the challenge, the dishes should be vegetarian.  Well, I used homemade chicken stock in my soup because I had some and it’s got that comforting feel – but it would of course be great made with any kind of veggie stock (especially if you push the boat out and make your own – homemade stock is the best!) and that would actually make it vegan as well as veggie friendly.

Hot and Sour Lentil Soup (serves 6) 19p per portion

  • 250g red lentils 50p (£3.98 for 2kg, Asda)
  • 100g frozen spinach or a couple of good handfuls fresh 13p (£1.25  for 1kg, Morrisons)
  • 2 small onions, chopped 5p (98p for 2kg, Asda)
  • 1.8 litres chicken or veg stock (I used 2 litres homemade chicken stock and it was too watery until reduced, so I’d add less next time – counting as free)
  • Large thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated 10p (30p per 100g, Asda)
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed 8p (£1 for 4 bulbs, Asda)
  • 2-4 dried red chillies (or use crushed flakes – start with 1-2tsp and work from there, depending on your heat tolerance), 3p
  • Juice of one lemon 26p (£1.29 for 5, Morrisons)
  • 1/2 tbsp veg oil or fat of choice, 1p (£2 for 2 litres Crisp & Dry, Asda)

In your pressure cooker or large pot, heat the oil and add the onions on a medium heat.  Cook for a few minutes, until soft, then add the dried chilli, ginger and garlic.  Stir-fry for a minute, then add the hot stock and lentils.

Put the lid on your pressure cooker, seal and bring to pressure.  Cook for five minutes then use the quick release method to open the lid (if you don’t have a pressure cooker, just simmer on the hob until the lentils are done.

Mash the lentils with a potato masher or blend slightly with a hand blender (you don’t have to but I like the texture when it’s slightly mashed).  Add the fresh or frozen spinach and cook until defrosted/wilted down.  Add the lemon juice and season well, particularly with black pepper.

Serve with bread for lunch or as a starter.

Not only is this soup healthy and cheering, but it’s also really, really cheap too!  With a couple of slices homemade bread, that’s lunch for under 30p.  Beats going out in the rain to pay £3 for a meal deal, eh?


3 thoughts on “Hot and Sour Lentil Soup

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