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Aromatic Lentil & Vegetable Soup

When temperatures plummeted on Thursday, my first thoughts turned to which soup I could share in this week's newsletter, as everyone needs another go-to soup that uses minimal ingredients, and virtually no preparation time. After debating between a few favorites - the others will surely feature in future newsletters - I decided to launch our winter soup collection with this lightly spiced Lentil & Vegetable Soup. Amazingly frugal as it uses celery leaves - which you would ordinarily throw out - it's full flavored with a wonderful, zesty kick. Try if you can to make the topping garnish - I admit I don't always but the topping adds a whole extra dimension - and elevate this hearty soup instantly. Aromatic Lentil & Vegetable Soup

2 tablespoons canola oil 1 large onion, chopped 2 large carrots, peeled and grated 3/4 cup chopped celery leaves 1 cup red lentils, rinsed but not soaked Salt and pepper to taste 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock 1 teaspoon ground cumin 3 tablespoons lemon juice 1: Saute the onion, grated carrot and celery leaves till soft then add lentils and stock and simmer for approximately 40 minutes till lentils are soft. 2: Stir in ground cumin, lemon juice and season to taste, and serve bowls of soup garnished with a spoon of spicy onions on top. TOPPING (OPTIONAL SEE NOTES) 2 tablespoons canola oil 2 large onions, sliced in rings 1 teaspoon crushed garlic 1 teaspoon ground coriander spice 2 teaspoons dried mint (spice shops) 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (optional) 1: Prepare topping while soup is cooking by frying onions till golden, then stir in the garlic, ground coriander, dried mint and chili, and cook a minute or two more. COOK'S NOTES: Chopped celery leaves - that you usually discard - have a wonderful peppery flavor. Can be substituted with shredded spinach leaves instead. The topping may be made ahead and adds amazing flavor. Dried mint can be found at spice shops but I often dry a few leaves of fresh mint in the microwave and then crumble them. Recipe serves approximately 6 small bowls.

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