I love soup. It’s my ‘go-to’ food when I need a little bit of comfort, a little bit of love. Quite simply, soup puts the world to rights. And I’m not the only one, who feels like this.

According to food historians, people have been making soup, in one form or another, since around 20,000 BC. And hot or cold, it’s a staple part of pretty much every culture’s cuisine, in pretty much every season, on pretty much every menu around the world. Even with food fashions changing, and ingredients and dishes coming and going, soup has somehow stayed the course: we are, it seems, a planet of soup lovers.

According to Beethoven though (allegedly), ‘only the pure in heart can make a good soup’. So, here’s one of my mother’s.




• 1 tsp olive oil
• 1 red onion, chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
• 1 small bunch of fresh coriander (c. 50–60g), torn
• 1 tsp turmeric
• 1 tsp cumin seeds
• ½ tsp black mustard seeds
• ½ tsp good black peppercorns, crushed
• 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
• 80g kale or leaf spinach
• 4 large ripe tomatoes, (c. 200g), roughly chopped
• 320g red lentils, washed
• 1 litre organic vegetable stock (such as Swiss Marigold)
• 200g light coconut milk
• Himalayan salt to taste (optional)



1. Place the oil in a large pan on a medium heat. Stir in the chopped onion and garlic and cook until soft and translucent.
2. Add the spices and coriander and cook for a further minutes or so, stirring so that they are combined. Then add the chopped tomatoes. Cook for a further couple of minutes.
3. Add the lentils to the pan and combine with the cooked ingredients; then pour in the stock. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a low–medium heat and cook for about 35–40 minutes, or until the lentils have softened and the soup thickened. Stir occasionally.
4. Stir in the coconut milk and leave to cook for a further 10 minutes. Add more water if the mixture is too thick.
5. Blitz with a hand blender until smooth.
6. Add the kale (leaf spinach) to the soup and reduce the heat. Leave to cook for 10–15 minutes. Season to taste.


To serve: garnish with some torn coriander leaves and a pinch of red chilli flakes. Lovely with flatbread.

This soup can be prepared in advance and is even more delicious the following day.


Soup reading: Force of Nature by Jane Harper (crime/Australian noir); End Game by Matt Johnson (gritty Brit thriller)

Also of interest:Fava me with love – breaking bread with friends‘; ‘A little bit of cheese, please, my dear‘; ‘Cooking price-wise – Vincent Price masterchef’


A version of this recipe appeared in HIP, 9 February 2017 issue. Image ‘A little bit of soup goes a long way’ © The Literary Shed 2018.

This article/recipe is © 2018 by The Literary Shed. All rights reserved. All opinions are our own. We welcome your feedback and comments. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please do request permission. Thank you so much.