Tag Archives: vegetarian

Soup 20 – Nusa inspired Spicy Lentil Soup


Yer wig’s slipped love.


East London Knitwear


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


Serves 8

  • 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
  •  Water
  • 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!


This is basically the same right?

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.


Buttery turkish bread and a waxing price list.


Ginge alert!

Ginge alert!

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~

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Soup 17 – Titanic Cream of Barley Soup – 1st Class

This is how we do in the 1st class! Putting the ‘tight’ into Titanic!

Ah, it is with a full stomach and a heavy heart that I must bring us to the end of my Titanic soup investigation and will end with the soup served in the 1st class dining room of the ship which was purportedly a Cream of Barley Soup. A now well-known 1st class passenger was The ‘Unsinkable’ Molly Brown, the daughter of a poor Irish immigrant family whose husband made his fortune through silver mining. She was apparently looked upon with derision by her fellow 1st class passengers due to her humble upbringing. Dicks.

B*tch got moxy

Molly apparently accrued the ‘Unsinkable’ part of her name after not just surviving the sinking of Titanic but helping others by taking control of her lifeboat and encouraging the women on board to keep rowing for 7 hours(bet they HATED her!) and giving her furs to those who were cold (everyone).

So the recipe I used, annoyingly had the measurements in ‘cups’ that strange American measurement that to me, makes NO sense at all. So I have translated it into normal-ish measurements that hopefully you’ll understand.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 rashers of streaky smoked bacon, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon parsley stems, chopped
1/4 teaspoon peppercorns
1 medium English mug of pearl barley
1ltr beef stock
300ml whipping cream
2 tablespoons whiskey
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

n.b I didn’t use whisky as I didn’t have any and didn’t want to splash out on a whole bottle and I couldn’t find a suitable alternative.


1. In large pot, heat oil over medium heat, add salt pork and cook, stirring often, for two minutes. Stir in carrots, onions and garlic; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until vegetables are very soft.

2.  Add the bay leaf, parsley stems and peppercorns. You can alternatively make a bouquet garni out of these ingredients using cheesecloth. Stir barley into vegetable mixture, cook, stirring, for about 45 seconds. Pour in stock.

3. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 40 to 45 minutes or until barley is tender. Remove from heat; in blender or food processor, puree soup in batches until almost smooth but still a little chunky. Transfer to clean pot, cook over medium heat until steaming. Whisk in cream, whiskey and vinegar.

4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Do not boil.

So, here is the final result:

Served with the finest medium Hovis wholemeal bread £1.19 could buy!

So how did this taste? Frankly, I was disappointed and felt that the soups only got worse the higher up the class system I climbed. Maybe my pauper palette just isn’t accustomed to such decadence but I found this soup deeply strange. Due to the cream and the barley it to me felt quite slimy and horrible in the mouth. It in fact had the ‘mouthfeel’ of rice pudding which was quite disconcerting. It had elements of tastiness but the texture (which is VERY important in soup) was just too off putting for me to enjoy. It was a very rich and filling soup which wasn’t exactly what I needed in a heat wave but as I always say (starting from now) the soups must go on! Wind, rain or shine. In a recipe I read for this, the woman who wrote it said that it was the kind of soup which only got better after time but I disagree. It just became thicker and more gelatinous and I have to admit, I threw the last bit away after heating it up for lunch and just not being able to face it. I think my friend I shared it with at work actually thought I was doing it out of spite.

Cost: 4 pound signs out of 10
Tastiness: 4 tongues out of 10
Complexity: 4 Labyrnths out of 10
Overall: 4 Ladles out of 10

Conclusion: Personally unenjoyable for me but not sure if I’m biased as I generally don’t like slimy, creamy things of any kind in my mouth – make of that what you will.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized