Tag Archives: lentils

Sweet potato and lentil soup

Accra fruit and veg

While we always come back to Accra with suitcases stuffed with food hard to find here, there are lots of wonderful food items here too. Cassava, mango, pineapple, red onions, avocado, eggplant and green bell peppers, and  yes – sweet potato. On Sundays I’ll often make soup for next week’s lunches. In Rome it was fridgestrone – whatever vegetables needed using up at the end of the week. Here in Accra, sweet potatoes are often the base, with onions, some pulses,  and various spices, all simmering in the slow cooker.


Sweet potato and lentil soup

3 onions
6 cloves of garlic
3 tsp fennel seeds
9 cm fresh ginger, peeled
2 tbs oil
1.5 litre vegetable stock
1 kilo sweet potato, diced
200 grammes red lentils
4 tbs coconut milk powder
salt, pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a frying on. Peel and hope the onions, and fry them gently for a few minutes. Add fennel seeds. Chop the fresh ginger coarsely, and add to the frying pan for a few minutes more.

Meanwhile, peel, then coarsely chop the sweet potatoes. I use a hand blender to finish the soup after cooking, so was not too worried about chopping evenly. Put the sweet potatoes in the slow cooker, with vegetable stock, onion/ginger/fennel seeds, and the red lentils. I had soaked the red lentils for a couple hours first, totally optional. Cook in slow cooker on high for a few hours, or in a stovetop pot if you prefer (maybe 45 minutes). When the sweet potatoes and lentils are soft, blend until smooth using a stick blender. Stir in the coconut milk powder (or coconut milk if you have that). Check the seasoning and serve.


Not so Pinterest-worthy but tasty!


Sweet potato soup with ginger, coconut milk and yellow lentils


A new investment in Accra was our slow cooker. Nothing fancy, but it is perfect for hot days (which is most of the year). We like to cook from scratch, and have made ragu for polenta, chickpea curry, lots of soup, Moroccan stews…. On Sundays I usually make yoghurt for the next week, and some sort of slow cooker dish so lunch is sorted for the next few days. We like to cook from scratch, and have made ragu for polenta, chickpea curry, lots of soup, Moroccan stews….  This time, the sweet potatoes looked good, we had fresh ginger, so soup it was.

Sweet potato soup with ginger, coconut milk and yellow lentils, made in slow cooker

  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground lemongrass (optional)
  • 3 inches fresh garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1.2 kilo or so of sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 140 grammes yellow lentils
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 4 tbs coconut milk powder + 200 ml water (or half a can of coconut milk)
  • Salt to taste  (1 tsp for me)

Sunday morning: soak the lentils in a cup of water, and go back to bed to listen to the Kermode/Mayo film podcast on BBC. Yes, these split yellow lentils should not need soaking, but these lentils do — possibly old? Yours might not.

Later that morning: In a frying pan, heat the oil and gently cook the onion, cumin, coriander, lemongrass and ginger, until the onion is softened. Peel the sweet potato – I had one very large one. Ask your husband to chop the sweet potato, which he does without complaint. This is the white-fleshed kind.

I have a slow cooker, which I love, so I tossed it all in there: sweet potatoes, stock, onions and spices, and slightly soaked lentils. Cook on high for 4 hours or so, until the lentils and sweet potato have softened.. If you do not have a slow cooker, this can easily be done on the stovetop in a covered pot (maybe 45 minutes or so?) Take out a cup or so of cubed sweet potato and keep it aside for texture. With an immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. At this stage, I added salt and decided to add some coconut milk, as it was a bit thick but needed more flavour. Add the cubed sweet potato back to the pot.





Roast pumpkin soup with red lentils

Pumpkin s
Last year I gave a friend a soup-making class for Christmas. Two hours in my kitchen, three soups to make, plenty of white wine and fresh bread, and lots to take home and freeze. She is a lovely person, but a hesitant and infrequent cook, and she was intimidated by soup-making. I wanted to encourage her, and show her that soup can be very flexible, easy to make and cheap. We had a lot of fun.

This is an easy soup to make. I often make soup on Sundays with a base of an onion, carrot and/or celery (your basic soffrito), some stock and whatever needs using up in the veg drawer. Not so easy if you do not cook much, but here in Rome it is easy to buy just what you need: two carrots, three potatoes, whatever looks nice and is in season. Add some herbs, a whizz with the hand blender, and hey presto – lunch for next week! Here, I roasted the pumpkin for flavour, and tossed in some lentils for body.

Roast pumpkin soup with red lentils

400 g of pumpkin
2-3 tsp olive oil
150 g red lentils
1 onion
1 head fennel
a little parsley
1 stick of celery, with leaves
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
A small red chili, or some chili flakes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 vegetable stock cubes
1.5 litre of water
Salt and pepper, to taste

Start by soaking the lentils in enough water to cover them, just an hour or so before making soup. Not necessary, but it cuts down on the cooking time.

Roasting pumpkin

Heat the oven to 200C. Wash and roughly chop your pumpkin, and lay the pieces out on a foil-covered baking tray. Do not worry about peeling the pumpkin, it is easier to do that after it is roasted. Drizzle a little olive oil over. Roast for 20 min or so, until the pumpkin can be easily pierced.

Veg for soup

In the meantime, roughly chop your onion, celery, the chili, garlic and fennel. (If you do not have fennel, add more celery or some carrots or another onion.) Heat 1 tsp of olive oil, toss in the veg and cinnamon, cumin and salt, and sauté lightly for a few minutes. It will smell lovely. Now, drain the soaked lentils and add them, with stock cubes and water. Take the roasted pumpkin pieces, peel them and add them to the pot. They will be hot, just use a fork and knife. Bring to the boil, and simmer 15 minutes or so.

Take off the heat, and blend soup using a hand blender. You decide if you want it smooth or chunky. Season with a little salt and pepper, it will taste different after being blended. Heat and serve. With some fresh bread on the side, this is a great lunch, and leftovers keep well in the fridge.

Garbatella stepsSteps in Garbatella – a random image from the neighborhood. I had wandered up the hill to the market to buy the pumpkin that day.