Greek lentil soup with cauliflower crumbs

While January can often feel depressing or stagnant as we crawl our way out of the holiday coma, this year, I’m embracing this new beginning with wide, scooping arms. As we clock up twelve months in Brooklyn, I’m chomping at the bit to sink my teeth into this year’s new food and writing projects. Of course, one of the huge highlights will be introducing you to my new book, which will be launched in Australia in the Spring. Hopefully we will soon bring you news of US distribution too.

With holiday indulgence over, and the New York winter finally setting in, my eyes are firmly focused on healthy, warming dishes. Today’s Greek Lentil Soup, or Faki as it is known in Greek, is just that – comforting, full-flavoured and packed with the nutrients to keep my body nourished during the cool months. Faki is a Greek classic, a genuine peasant style dish built with the simplest of ingredients. Caramelizing the carrots, onions and celery before adding them to the lentils deepens the flavours of this soup, while the traditional addition of a swig of red wine vinegar perfectly rounds off the dish.

Tradition aside, let’s take a moment to talk about cauliflower crumbs. Inspired by the bits of cauliflower that fall astray while cutting up florets, these are really my new favourite soup or salad topping. You can add whatever flavour you wish to your cauli crumbs but in this recipe, I’ve stuck with mediterranean hits of dried oregano, walnuts and feta. For other dishes, I’ve also made them with middle eastern spices of coriander and cumin to delicious effect.

Happy new year to all and happy cooking. xx

 

Greek lentil soup with cauliflower crumbs

The cauliflower crumbs can be easily made vegan by omitting the feta cheese. I used green lentils, but you can really use whatever lentils you have on hand.

Gluten free | For vegan, omit feta

Serves 4-6

  • 450g (8oz) green lentils, well rinsed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups (2 litre) vegetable stock
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 170g (6oz) tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper

Cauliflower crumbs

  • ½ (about 250g) cauliflower, flower part only
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch of chilli/red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup (heaped) walnuts, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup feta, crumbled
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt

To prepare the cauliflower crumbs, slice the cauliflower across the florets, allowing the flower to separate and fall off as rough crumbs. Alternatively, you can just finely chop up the cauliflower head into small pieces. Place a fry pan on medium heat and add some olive oil. Add the cauliflower, oregano and garlic to the fry pan and fry gently for 5 minutes until it is starting to crisp up. Add the chilli flakes and walnuts and cook for another 2 minutes. Take off the heat and season a little with sea salt. Allow to cool completely before adding the feta.

In a large pot, add the rinsed lentils, bay leaf and stock. Cover and bring to the boil. Once boiled, reduce heat and allow the lentils to simmer as you prepare your vegetables.

Place a fry pan over medium heat. Add the extra virgin olive oil along with the carrots, onion and celery. Cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes until the vegetables are starting to caramelize. Finally, stir the tomato paste through the vegetables, and fry for another 2 minutes.

Add the vegetables and tomato mixture to the pot of lentils. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. Finish with red wine vinegar and season well with sea salt and black pepper. The soup can be consumed immediately, or stored in the fridge overnight for even deeper flavours. Serve with a scatter of cauliflower crumbs.