20 March 2009


The DUTCH Series N°5 : Lentil Soup Recipe with Saffron Garlic Roux

It is officially the 1st day of SPRING!

So why am I writing about a winter soup you may ask. Good question. The thing is – the calendar may say that Spring has arrived,  but while it is sunny in Geneva it is still very chilly. I was nearly blown away this morning when crossing the bridge  – literally! It is because of  ‘la bise’ a Northerly wind that comes whistling through the city at a bone chilling rate. It is at these times you really need some stick to your ribs, heart warming food.

Years ago lentil soup was the very last thing on my list of favourite foods. It was something to eat under duress. In fact I was such a terrible child, that once my aunt went to all the trouble of preparing a homemade lentil stew and I turned my nose up and said I couldn’t possibly.  Naughty naughty naughty.

I have since grown up & so have my taste buds.  The first lentil soup recipeI tried will remain nameless, as the spices were all off and it made enough for the Russian army… needless to say, I was not impressed. I have since fiddled and tweaked my way to come up with this version, with a hint of chilly, the tang of lemon, soothed with spices & served with a generous dollop of saffron, garlic roux!

The saffron garlic roux is a thick cream that was inspired by a bouillabaisse soup I had this past summer at a friends house in Provence. She served her fish  soup with a traditional roux made of mayonnaise, saffron & garlic. One of the guests liked it so much that I think we could have left him alone with just the sauce & a spoon! I have made a lighter version using thick Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise and reduced the garlic to half as it is very strong.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (net weight can 400g)
  • 100 gr (1/2 cup) red lentils
  • 50 gr (1/4 cup) barley
  • 1L vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 bay (laurel) leaves
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon Cayenne pepper (add more if you like the soup spicy)


  • 250 gr (1 small container) full fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2  garlic clove
  • 3 generous pinches of powdered saffron
  • pinch of salt
  1. First prepare the spices, set aside
  2. Next finely chop the onions, carrots & celery, set each aside separately
  3. Heat the oil & add the onions & bay leaves.  Use med / low heat as you only want to sweat the onions not turn them brown.
  4. Add garlic & spices. Stirring, let cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add chopped carrots & celery.
  6. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, lentils & barley. Stir well.
  7. Add bouillon, lemon juice, salt & pepper.
  8. Cover & simmer gently for 30-40 minutes until lentils & barley are cooked.
  9. For the roux, mix the pressed garlic into the yogurt and finally add the saffron & salt. Mix until well combined.

4 Responses to “LENTIL SOUP”

  1. Marjorie Says:

    I am not a lover of bouillabaisse soup albeit I should be in view of my heritage; however, I do love the roux which is a great accompaniment to it. I can only imagine it will taste just as nice with lentil soup and I like the spices you used (the way to D’s heart)! It is still a good time for “heartwarming” soup so kudos to you for posting it.

    • Marjorie : hope your cold is better – this recipe would actually be as good as chicken soup! Let me know how you like the spices, I think people might want to personalise them to their taste 🙂

  2. Hi Erika!
    This is what I am going to try try tomorrow. Burr…It’s recording breaking cold in Jan. in North Carolina. I’ve never made the saffron garlic roux with yogurt but will give it a try. It will fit my new year “sort of” diet.

    • Hi Marianne,
      You have been a busy bee in the kitchen!
      I have a new baked apple recipe for you this week which will also go with your ‘sort of’ diet 🙂
      It is also freezing with mush snow in Geneva, and I made lentil soup last week for this reason.
      Hope you like the saffron roux.

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