So the wind has changed and I am currently working over in East London. The land where war-time knitwear and the slipped wigs are king. I must say it has been quite a culture shock getting on the Bank branch of the Northern line instead of the Charing Cross one, I can tell you. As I intrepidly step into the carriage filled with painfully cool people who also appear slightly unwashed, I miss my pretty PR girls and production peeps I have to say.
I alight at Old Street and a strange, quite unpleasant smell of fried pig hits me in the face and I dream of lunch time already…Since day one of landing here I have only ventured to one place every lunch time and it’s currently my new obsession. It’s called NUSA and they sell AMAZING soups. The fact that there is a queue all the way out of the door every day is probably an indication of how much people love this place and they do about six different varieties which change every week, ranging from jambalaya to broths to goan soups and they also have low-fat, gluten-free and dairy free options, so manage to cater for lots of different people and palates with a very simple offering. It reminds me of the Soup Nazi place in Seinfeld apart from the fact that the staff are LOVELY, you can even try before you buy.
I get mine with some brown rice on the side, NEVER in the soup as I feel like that way they would give you less soup? (Not just a hat rack my friend, not just a hat rack). You can have various toppings, chillis, coriander, yoghurt…I usually opt for ALL and you can also have bread which is a delicious naan style bread which glistens and is very tasty.
Despite my new found romance with NUSA, I’ve had to cool things down a bit, mainly because it usually comes to £4.50 a day and it kills me to think how much money they must be making off this especially as I am cursed with the knowledge of how cheap it can be to make soup, it makes it almost impossible to buy soup at a restaurant, a shop like NUSA or even in a can! If I want to rent a flat with a lounge by the time I’m 50, I can’t keep fuelling this delicious addiction. I tried their low-fat option available last week, Spicy lentil and really enjoyed it so was really pleased when I found they had shared that recipe online and prepared to replicate the beautiful stuff at home.
I had to make a few alterations due to lack of ingredients so here’s my version below.
Mother Souperior’s NUSA inspired Spicy Lentil Soup
- 1 huge onion peeled and chopped quite small
- 200g Ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 750g Yellow split lentils, rinsed
- 2 Tins Chopped Tomatoes
- 4 tsp Tumeric Powder
- 4 tsp Chilli Powder
- 3 tsp Colmans English Mustard powder
- 2 Vegetable Stock cubes
- Olive oil
- 50ml Lemon Juice
- a big bunch of Coriander
- 1. Wash Lentils, place in pan and add enough water to cover them
- 2. Slowly boil and add tomatoes, ginger and vegetable stock.
- 3. Continue to simmer until lentils are soft and then add the lemon juice
- 4. Add more water if the mixture becomes too thick
- 5. In a separate pan heat the cooking oil and add mustard powder and cumin seeds, coat in oil and then add the onions
- 6. Fry until onions are brown
- 7. Add the fried onions and spices to the cooked lentils
- 8. Continue cooking until lentils are soft, add water according to how thick you like it, when finished add the coriander and a touch more lemon juice if necessary
So, I cannot reiterate enough how tasty and rich the real McCoy version of this soup is so the pressure really was on. This wasn’t helped by the fact I thought I had mustard seeds when I didn’t and I couldn’t find any curry leaves at the shop. The original recipe didn’t specify what colour lentils to use so I opted for yellow. The ginger used in this seemed like a dauntingly large amount but I had to put my trust in the recipe and forge on, after all, it IS a taste sensation so something had to give it that zing. Cooking with lentils can be tricky, I think there is definitely a turning point when they are ‘done’, you don’t want to undercook them or you’re going to feel like you’re eating the contents of a maraca. My lack of mustard seeds did pose a problem and I resolved to use some Colman’s english mustard powder I had in my cupboard as a replacement, I don’t think this would probably be recommended but I didn’t want my soup to lack in spice!
As I write up this soup I have also just realised I missed out the lemon juice, oh blast. So DON’T you let me down and forget all those things disciples!
The finished article looked pretty nice. I served mine with some buttery turkish bread.
This soup really was delicious, a real zinger. Of course it wasn’t exactly the same as the shop bought stuff but it was filling and full of character. The ginger element was definitely there, and my decision to chop finely instead of grating it may have been a mistake in hindsight but I would still add the same amount again if I were to repeat this recipe. With less water it probably would just be a dhal but I really like dhal, so that’s fine. The great thing about this soup is its versatility, if you want it thick you can add more water, you can also adjust spiciness levels to your preference. It’s so thick and filling that you also don’t need bread for it to feel like a real hearty meal. Missing out the lemon juice didn’t make it feel lacking but am definitely going to add some to my vat I have waiting for me at home to see the difference. I can’t wait to tuck into the Tupperware-full I have brought today for my lunch as well, especially when the ingredients came to £7 and it has made enough for about 10 portions!
Cost: 4 pound sign out of 10 (cheap compared to shop bought)
Tastiness: 8 tongues out of 10
Complexity: 6 labyrinths out of 10
Overall: 7 ladles out of 10
Ciao for now! ~MS~