This Vegan Lentil Soup is a delicious, healthy and comforting dish, full of flavor from few and simple ingredients and a perfect lunch for babes on a budget - or anyone just craving something hot and tasty and, if you wish, slightly spicy. Vegan, Low Fat, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free and basically free of most allergens it will suit most dietary needs. Don't be alarmed by the cooking time - most of this is idle time so you can spend it doing something other than watch the pot boil.
Soaking the lentils: at least 12 hours before cooking
Place the uncooked lentils in a bowl and fill it up with water. The water should more than cover the lentils.
Cooking the Lentil Soup
Drain the lentils and place in a pot large enough to fit all ingredients and still have room to blend it. Add the cold water and half of the salt. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 20-30 minutes until the lentils are soft and easy to smush.
While the lentils are cooking, start with the sauce. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add in the onion. Fry for about 5 minutes, until the onion is soft, translucent and slightly browned.
Add the vegetable stock to the pan, bring to a boil and cook for a minute.
Add in the paprika purée, thyme, basil, black pepper, chili flakes, cayenne powder and the other half of the salt. Mix well and let cook for at least 10 minutes.
When the lentils are cooked soft, take them off the heat and mix - with the cooking water - using an immersion blender. Add in the paprika and onion sauce and mix again. Place back over medium high heat and bring back to a boil. Let cook for at least 15 minutes, then check the consistency - add more water if too thick or let cook a bit longer if too thin.
When the soup is finished and you're happy with the consistency - take it off the heat and taste test. Serve in individual bowls and top the soup with chili flakes and fresh basil.
Adjust the spice according to taste and the chili flakes you use - some are really spicy, and others not so much. As always, taste throughout and you will be fine! If you're worried about the dish being too spicy - add a little at the beginning and more at the end, if you think there's not enough spice.
Adjust the consistency to suit your taste - this version creates the perfect consistency for me - not runny but not too thick - but you might want to make it thicker or thinner. For a thinner soup, add more water - you can do this at the end if you're unsure how much to add. For a thicker sop, add less water or let it cook longer.
Serve with some nice bread to make into a complete meal.
Add some pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds on top for a bit of crunch.
Top it all with feta cheese if you're feeling extra indulgent. It's delicious!