We made this because we had lentils, onions, celery and carrots lying around and we hate wasting anything. This is hearty and perfectly adequate as as a stand-alone dish. The herb paste and goat’s cheese make it extra special. Not at all bad for a leftovers soup!
Wine Suggestion: as this is so hearty and earthy a round, juicy red matches this dish well. The Beelgara Shiraz from the Riverland in Australia, while not particularly complex works well because of the warm bramble and plum flavours, medium body and gentle tannins that don’t dominate but rather sit delightfully alongside the flavours of the lentils, pesto and cheese.
Tajik Green Lentil & Rice Soup – serves 4
- olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 4 tomatoes, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- 200g green or brown lentils, washed
- 150g brown rice, washed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 litre hot vegetable stock
- 120g crumbly goat’s or sheep’s cheese
For the herb paste:
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- a good handful of flat-leaf parsley
- a good handful of coriander
- a handful of mint
- a handful of pistachios
- a squeeze of lemon juice
Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat and add a good glug of olive oil. Throw in the onion, celery, carrot & tomatoes and cook until softened. Add the garlic, cumin seeds & allspice. Cook for another minute then stir in the lentils, rice & bay leaves.
Pour in the vegetable stock, bring to the boil, then turn down and cover the pan. Cook for 20-30 mintues or until the rice and lentils are tender.
To make the herb paste: put all the ingredients in a small blender with a good pinch of salt and pepper, then whizz to a thick puree.
Thin the soup with a little hot water and taste for seasoning. Serve in bowls with the herb paste & crumbled cheese on top.
(Original recipe from Samarkand by Caroline Eden & Eleanor Ford, Kyle Books, 2016.)