Red Lentil Soup

As the weather has been cold and wet, I wanted to make Σούπα λουβάνα (Louvana) / Yellow Split Pea Soup, a traditional, comforting Cypriot soup using yellow split peas and rice. I searched my kitchen cabinets but couldn’t find any yellow slit peas, I did however find a packet of Κόκκινες φακές / Red split lentils, so I thought why not, as I love them too! Did you know when you cook red lentils they turn yellow?

¼ cup olive oil + extra
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
225g red split lentils
2 litres hot water
2 vegetarian or chicken stock cubes
Salt + pepper
½ tsp of ground paprika
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp turmeric
A pinch of chilli flakes
75g long or short grain rice
1 large carrot, grated
1 tsp sugar, optional
1 tbsp fresh chopped mint or 1 tsp dried mint
Juice of ½ lemon or more

To garnish:
Chopped fresh mint or parsley

Sauté onions in olive oil for 4-5 minutes, add the garlic and cook briefly. Then mix in the spices and cook for a minute so they realise the oils and flavours.
Dilute the stock cube in the hot water and pour into the lentils, bring to the boil, mix and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time until lentils have softened.
Add the grated carrot, rice, sugar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in the mint and simmer for another 15 minutes, stir a couple of times so the rice doesn’t stick to the pan, then add the lemon juice and blend the soup until smooth.
Serve in warm bowls, drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkle of chopped fresh mint or parsley.
Note: The soup goes very thick when cold so add some hot water to thin it up.

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