You can knock this up from the store cupboard in next to no time, yet it’s delicious – and filling too
I must admit that this time of year I find lunch a real bore if I’m on a diet. Sandwiches quickly become dull at the best of times but I really resent them when I’m dieting – for being so totally wasteful of calories. (The only way to eat a sandwich when you’re on a diet is to follow Ian Marber’s neat advice to throw away half the bread, and once the sandwich is re-formed with what you have left, you have the correct proportion of carbs to filling. Clever, huh?)
Anyway, of the alternatives, soup not salad, is the thing for me – and especially now I know that it really is true that soup is the best way of staving off hunger. I watched some science-y food show on telly the other night and apparently it’s all to do with the way the stomach empties as it digests food. Basically if your food is blended with water, the whole lot stays in the stomach, so you really do feel fuller for longer. There’s a good write-up of how it works here.
A thick vegetable soup is best – but for me at any rate, lunch is the kind of thing decided on the spur of the moment – and who’s going to be bothered to make soup?
Which is where this pretty-much instant, low-calorie lentil soup comes in. It’s a total cheat, taking only a few minutes to prepare but bizarrely it’s not only filling but damn good too. And at 150 calories a bowl, you can afford to have toast with it, and maybe even a sprinkling of low calorie feta, though I’d probably go with freshly-chopped coriander.
5-MINUTE LOW CALORIE LENTIL SOUP RECIPE (makes 1 portion)
1 pickled onion 1/2 tin of lentils (about 130g drained weight) Decent chicken stock - see note below 1 tsp tomato puree 1/2 tsp ground ginger 1/2 tsp ground cumin 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 1/2 tbs flour A good squeeze of lemon 1/2 tsp salt Black pepper Sprinkling of chopped coriander (optional) You need 250ml’s worth of stock - that’s half a Knorr Stock Pot or if you absolutely have to, 1 Oxo cube.
1. Blitz the pickled onion in the food processor then add the drained lentils, spices and flour and pulse until you reach a consistency of a rough paste.
2. Bring the stock to a boil with about 300ml of water
3. Whisk the lentil mixture into the stock (keep whisking until everything’s boiling nicely, so that the flour is incorporated properly). Add the lemon juice and tomato puree then boil furiously for a few minutes until reduced to a nice soupy consistency.
4. Adjust seasoning if necessary and serve. Don’t skimp on the salt!