A Warm and Healthy Red Lentil, Chickpea and Chilli Soup for Autumn. Photo Credit Bubblews

The nights are drawing in and we start to think about those warming meals which may not be as healthy as we would like. But here is a very tasty and warm soup that you can mix and match the ingredients to suit your own tastes.

Red Lentil, Chickpea and Chilli Soup Ingredients

  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • large pinch chilli (flakes if possible)
  • 1 tbsp oil, olive oil is best
  • 1 red onion (seasonal vegetable), chopped
  • 140g red lentils, split
  • 850ml water or vegetable stock
  • 400g can tomatoes, can be chopped or whole
  • 200g of chickpeas, a carton or ½ a can, drain and rinse (leftovers can be frozen)
  • small bunch of roughly chopped coriander (save a few leaves to garnish)
  • 4 tbsp 0% Greek yoghurt, to serve

Technique

  • Heat a large saucepan and dry-fry the chilli flakes and cumin seeds for approximately 1 minute, or until they start to bounce around the pan and release the aroma.
  • Add the olive oil and red onion, and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the tomatoes, lentils, and stock, then bring to the boil.
  • Simmer for approximately 15 minutes until the lentils have softened.
  • Mix the soup with a food processor or a stick blender until it is a rough purée, pour back into the pan and add the chickpeas.
  • Heat gently, season and stir in the coriander.
  • Finish with a measure of yoghurt and sprinkle with coriander leaves.

This recipe only takes 10 minutes to prepare and 25 minutes to cook. There are sufficient ingredients to serve 4 people.
Let’s take a look at some of the ingredients and consider why those are in a healthy recipe as opposed to others.

Olive oil is considered a healthy fat as it is a monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA). MUFAs have be credited with helping to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering your cholesterol. Research is now starting to show that MUFAs help with maintaining blood sugar control, and therefore insulin levels. This blood sugar control is helpful if you suffer from Type 2 Diabetes. However, all fats should be used in moderation as they are high in calories.

Red and yellow onions are an excellent source of quercetin. This is a bioflavonoid that will scavenge cell damaging free radicals. Onions are rich in antioxidants that are anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. Eating onions can help in suppressing rhinoviruses, the underlying cause of the common cold. Red onions contain allicin and this has been credited with promoting cardiovascular health, and preventing some cancers. Onions can be eaten cooked or raw, and counts towards our five-a-day.

Chickpeas have a nutty taste, and are high in protein and fibre. They also have a low glycemic index, an ideal combination to aid weight control. Chickpeas in your diet will help towards reducing heart disease through lower levels of cholesterol. Chickpeas are very versatile, and can be used in soups, as above, curries, salads, stews, and chilli’s. Chickpea flour is naturally gluten free, and can be used to make pakoras and pancakes. Chickpeas can even be used in baked goods as an egg substitute.