For 6-8 portions you need

20ml olive or canola oil

2-3 medium white onions, finely chopped

2 fat cloves of garlic crushed

30ml ground turmeric

15ml ground cinnamon

5ml paprika

3ml ground black pepper

20ml ground ginger or 3cm fresh ginger root finely grated

1 small mild red chilli such as cayenne or Thai, finely sliced (optional)

400ml dried brown or red lentils (or a mix of the two)

1,5l good quality vegetable stock

1 can chickpeas, do not drain

About 2 liters fresh spinach or Swiss chard, sliced into 5mm ribbons

5ml salt

Juice of 1 lemon

For serving

Pomegranates are grown all over the Middle East

Thick, creamy yoghurt

A sprinkling of paprika

Pomegranate jewels


To prepare

Heat the oil and add the onions, cook slowly until they are glossy

Add the dry spices and cook for a further 2 minutes

Add the lentils and the stock. Simmer for 40-60 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Add the chick peas and the can juice. You can prepare up to this point the day before.

If the soup has thickened too much you can dilute it with a little extra vegetable stock.

Add the spinach, the salt and then lemon juice. Bring the soup to the boil. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, bearing in mind that the spice flavour must be dominant.

Serve the soup hot with a few dollops of thick yoghurt, a dusting of paprika and a few pomegranate rubies for an exotic finish