Spiced lentil, leek and kale soup recipe

Lentil leek kale soup.pngCreated for the recent Ruby & Pickles Indo-Scots fusion Burns Supper, this soup combines traditional Scottish ingredients with Indian flavours to create a hearty, warming dal-like soup. We wanted something that was similar enough to what is traditionally served at this Scottish celebratory night, but as always with our own special twist! At first I wasn’t so convinced by doing a soup but then I practiced this recipe a couple of weekends before and I was actually blown away. There’s nothing quite like when you cook something so delicious that you can’t stop proudly going mmmmmm all the way through eating it! I’m actually quite a modest chef and am my harshest critic but was so happy with how this turned out. The mare was whether I could recreate it, en masse, for the big day. Thankfully I managed and there were clean bowls all round on the night. In fact, the reason I’ve got round to writing this up so quickly was at the request of one of our guests!

I used a blend of red and green lentils to give it a bit more texture and a more Indian taste but you can stick to one colour and can even sub for yellow split peas or brown lentils. I also blended over a third of the soup once cooked, again for texture. Some people prefer it fully blitzed, others more chunky, so just do what works for you.

The key to the rich, strong flavours in this dish is the tempered onions and spices that the soup is topped with at the end. Cumin seeds are the most important but if you don’t have kalonji or fenugreek you can increase the amount of the other seeds so you have 1.5 teaspoons in total and a balance between which spices you do have.

This soup scales up quite well – you can safely multiple the spices in line with the vegetables and lentils.

We served it with homemade turmeric bread following a recipe by Mamta’s Kitchen which I was inspired to do after having turmeric bread on my recent trip to Seville.

Spiced lentil, leek and kale soup recipe

  • Servings: 4-6
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  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 2 leeks, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 inch of ginger, grated
  • 1 cup of lentils (red and/or green – I like to do a 60:40 combo)
  • 2 litres of boiled water
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 500g kale
  • Salt to taste

Tempered spices

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • Pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp kalonjig or nigella seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder


Heat the oil and fry the leeks until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the lentils and stir for one minute.

Pour in the hot water and all the spices. Bring to the boil then simmer and  cook until the lentils are soft – around 30 minutes. Add more water whilst cooking if required.

Meanwhile remove the stems from the kale and chop into small chunks. Leave to the side.

When the lentils are cooked blend 1/3-1/2 of the soup depending on your preferred consistency and mix with the remaining soup. Add more water if required. Salt to taste.

To temper the spices heat the oil. Once hot add the asafoetida, cumin, kalonji and fenugreek. When the cumin and fenugreek begin to brown add in the chilli powder and stir, then add in the onions. Cook on a medium heat until the onions are soft and start to go crisp.

When the onions are almost ready add the kale to the soup so that it lightly wilts.

Serve the soup in bowls, drizzle with some Oatly single cream and place the tempered onions on the top. Enjoy!


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