Peter’s green lentil & spiced tempeh soup

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Writing recipes is a journey of discovery. It is like meeting people through food: their tastes and culture come to life firstly on the page, and then on your tongue. I got very hungry writing this book, inspired to experience and create new dishes. This is one of those dishes.

A special tip for all those tempeh fanatics, courtesy of Michael Joyce from Mighty Bean on Australia’s Sunshine Coast. You already know the amazing health properties of this fermented soy bean cake, but I bet you’ve struggled to marinate it, because it is too dense to absorb your marinade. Well here is how to make the mighty tempeh thirsty for your marinade: just freeze it, then thaw it slowly in your fridge. So simple! Freezing makes the water in the cell walls of the soy expand, and when the tempeh thaws, the cell walls break down, allowing your marinade to soak in.

Preparation 20 minutes + 6 hours soaking
Cooking 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 50 g ( oz/¼ cup) dried white beans
  • 200 g (7 oz) tempeh or spiced tofu, sliced 2 cm (¾ inch) thick
  • 110 g ( oz/½ cup) split yellow lentils (toor dhal)
  • 110 g ( oz/½ cup) dried green lentils
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 100 ml ( fl oz) virgin coconut oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon black sesame seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon dill seeds
  • 5 whole dried red chillies
  • ½ teaspoon Chaat masala

To Serve

  • 3 tablespoons chopped spring onion (scallion)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped coriander (cilantro)
  • 2 Indian green chillies, sliced (optional)
  • 100 g ( oz) Greek-style yoghurt (optional)

Method

Soak the dried white beans in plenty of cold water for 6 hours. Meanwhile, if using tempeh, freeze the tempeh slices for a few hours, then leave them in the fridge to thaw.

Drain the white beans, then cook them in a saucepan of boiling water for about 10–15 minutes, or until partly cooked. Drain and set aside.

Wash the yellow and green lentils, then place in a saucepan with the drained white beans. Add the turmeric and 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) water and bring to the boil.

Meanwhile, in a small heavy-based frying pan or wok, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. When smoking, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes, until the onion starts to brown. Add all the spice seeds, and the whole dried chillies, stirring well for about 2 minutes, until the spices become fragrant. Stir in the garam masala and cook for a further minute, then add the tempeh or tofu, stirring to coat with the spices.

Pour the spiced oil mixture into the boiling pulses. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 30–40 minutes, or until all the pulses are soft, adding more water if needed.

Season to taste with salt. Serve garnished with spring onion and coriander, and chilli and yoghurt if desired.