I ate a version of this when in Istanbul (about 10 years ago now and one of my favourite places!) and it was so simple and comforting. This one is an easy weeknight meal or great one to make in the weekend and have for lunch. It also freezes well.

I really love toppings on soup. Here I have used herbs, crumbled feta, sliced red onion. I also love a poached egg sometimes too or a dollop of yoghurt. Also sautéed greens are a nice addition too. Two key things for this soup are the lemon juice and chilli flakes. You can add some chilli into the onions but I like to keep it kid friendly and just add them on top.

Serves 4
Freezes well.

2 onions, finely diced
4-6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp cumin seeds
4 T olive oil
350g pumpkin, grated or use carrot or kumara
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tin whole tomatoes, crushed with your fingers
2 T tomato paste
200g or 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
6 cups water or vegetable stock
Zest of a lemon plus 3-4 T lemon juice

Toppings
Coriander or parsley
Crumbled feta
Sliced red onion tossed in lemon juice
Chilli flakes
Extra lemon juice
Other ideas…. a poached egg, a dollop of yoghurt, sautéed greens

Heat oil in a large pot, add in onions, garlic, cumin seeds and a pinch of salt and sweat until soft for 10 minutes. Add in grated pumpkin and cook for a further 5 minutes before adding paprika and cooking off for a minute. This is where all the flavour is created so don’t rush this step.

Add lentils, tomato paste, tomatoes and water or stock and bring to the simmer. Simmer gently for about 40 minutes or until the lentils are nice and tender. Add in the lemon juice and season well. This soup doesn’t need to be blended but I quite like to blend about a cup until smooth and then add it back in. Season to taste and add more lemon if needed.

Top with toppings of choice.