Magic soup is the titular recipe of the Magic Soup cookbook, an adorable treasure of soup recipes from a former chef within the Ottolenghi restaurant empire teamed up with a woman who apparently lost 35 pounds eating the soups from their cookbook…
Even though this magic soup is offered as a diet recipe, and it certainly is good for you, it doesn’t taste like a soup meant to deprive the eater. That’s a trait almost all of the recipes I’ve tried from Magic Soup share, and one that makes me return to this slim little book often. The soups are healthy, but they are also fully flavored and satisfying, and pair extremely well with a roll, hunk of bread, or fruit salad on the side. Not only that, but most of them take only 20-40 minutes to prepare and cook, so they’re perfect for getting an enjoyable, nutritious dinner on the table without requiring much in the way of planning.
I elected to use collard greens when I first made this magic soup because those were what I had, but I found myself wishing I’d followed the instructions a little more exactly on the greens, as I don’t think the collard greens did the soup any favors. They were a little too heavy for the delicate lentils and the subtle spice. To be fair, the original recipe also called for yellow split peas, rather than red lentils, so the collard greens might have worked a little better there. I happily support using whichever legume you have in your pantry, but do use a delicate green rather than full-bodied, hearty greens. If you want to add a little more body to this soup, it would taste great with 1/4-1/2 cup of coconut milk added towards the end of cooking, stirred in and heated through. Alternatively, to provide a little extra acidity, a teaspoon or two of lemon juice would provide some more brightness.
- 1 cup red lentils or yellow split peas*
- ¼ - ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 1-2 tsp olive oil
- 1 onion, sliced thinly
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp garam masala
- 6 oz (just over ½ a bunch) baby spinach or other baby leafy greens, hard stems removed, leaves torn
- 4 cups vegetable broth or water
- Optional: 2 tablespoons toasted mixed seeds (such as sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds)
- 1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ¼-1/2 cup coconut milk
- Rinse the lentils thoroughly and double check for stones. Place in medium saucepan with the stock, cayenne pepper, and turmeric.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20-25 minutes, until lentils are soft and broken up but not complete mush.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the sliced onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the spices and continue cooking another 5 minutes, until aromatic. Add the spinach and stir until wilted, about 1-2 minutes (longer for heartier greens).
- If using the lemon juice or coconut milk, stir in, then remove from heat.
- Ladle the soup into serving bowls, top with the spinach-onion mixture, garnish with seeds, and serve.
- This soup will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.