Spinach, Lentil & Lemon Soup, 34p [VG/V/DF/GF]

This easy, comforting spinach and lentil soup was inspired by a recipe in Saha, by Greg and Lucy Malouf. I made it a few times as a quick late-night supper, before I lost the notebook with the details in one of my many house moves. For a long while, as a single mum on benefits, I all but lived out of a pile of boxes as I ran from rent arrears to damp and mould to a single mattress on a floor in a shared house, and a lot of pieces of paper – and nerve endings – got lost along the way. Here’s what I remember of it, in happier times these days, with a few blanks filled in. Homely, comforting and filling, it can also be made with tinned lentils and frozen spinach for the ultimate easy, inexpensive lunch or dinner. 

Serves 2 generously at 34p each

1 onion, 9p (90p/1.5kg, Sainsburys Basics)

1 fat clove of garlic or 2 smaller ones, 3p (35p/2 bulbs, Sainsburys Basics)

1 tablespoon oil, sunflower or vegetable, 2p (£3/3l, Sainsburys)

100g dried lentils or 200g tinned ones, any colour, 23p (£1.15/500g, Sainsburys split red lentils)

1 litre stock, 3p (30p/10 stock cubes, Sainsburys Basics)

zest and juice of 2 lemons or 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice, 7p (60p/250ml, Sainsburys bottled lemon juice)

a mugful of fresh or half a mug (80g-ish) of frozen spinach, 10p (£1.25/1kg, frozen spinach)

a fistful of coriander, stalks and all, 10p (80p/28g, Sainsburys)

a pinch of chilli, 1p (80p/100g, KTC or Natco brand at all major supermarkets)

Peel and chop the onion and garlic. Heat the oil in a saucepan and cook them on a gentle heat until they are softening, for 8–10 minutes. 

Rinse the lentils and tip them into the pan, followed by the stock, then stir gently. Bring it to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. If using dried lentils, carefully spoon off any greyish scum that rises to the surface; it’s just, what we call in our house and I hope you forgive the expression, ‘bean poo’ – perfectly harmless in itself, just not very pretty. I empathise.

Grate the zest from the lemons, if using, and squeeze out the juice into a mug or glass. Fish out the pips. I only ever really use bottled lemon juice because it’s so much less bother and you really can’t tell the difference.

Roughly chop the spinach and coriander as much as you can be bothered, which yes, sometimes does mean leaving it whole!

Stir the lemon zest and juice, the spinach and coriander into the soup.

Whiz everything together with a blender or in a food processor, if you have one, or leave it chunky if you prefer (I like either, they both meet a slightly different need in themselves).

Scatter over some breadcrumbs and a little chilli or paprika if you feel fancy, and enjoy hot.

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  1. Love you and ALL your recipes, even though with my IBS I can no longer touch lentils (sob!) or even onions (huge sob!) … I cook many of your recipes omitting onion and they’re still lovely. I have an onion-free stock I use with pretty much everything savoury and I can still stomach a bit of garlic, so that helps. Would LOVE to go vegan and I curse my tum for denying me the wholesome and frugal benefits of using pulses far more. My small daughter and I are cooking your chocolate and courgette cake tomorrow. Big daughter will be taking copies of all your cookbooks to uni. Thank you for everything Jack.x

  2. This soup is delicious. It has an unfamiliar and unusual flavour without being worryingly weird. I used brown lentils and the end result looked as though it had been dredged up from the bottom of a pond, but had a real mix and depth of favours that was very special. Thank you. Your recipes are always worth a try. Very happy that you are such an ambassador for great and normal vegan food.
    PS – the original soup recipe is here:

  3. I used this recipe as the inspiration for today’s lunch, I used up half a bag of not quite at its best spinach and also threw in half a tub of Passata left over from another recipe. I also crumbled in the end of some goats cheese to serve, it was delicious and even my fussy 12 yr old ate it (ok he didn’t have the goats cheese, but still..)

  4. Absolutely delicious!!!! Have just made this while bobbing my 6 week old baby to sleep! Just what I need to get through another long night!

  5. not to brag, but sometimes just by reading a recipe I can tell something will be delicious. Or maybe i just know what i like. I like this.

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