appetiser, blog, main dish, savoury/savory, side dish
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Tomato, Orange and Lentil Soup

Soup is the song of the hearth…and the home.

-Louis P. De Gouy

Christmas is here! I am so excited! After all, December is one of my favourite monthsChristmas and my birthday rolled into one glorious wintry month! So, in honour of both those great events I have dedicated this month to Christmas inspired food.

First up, things have been insane lately: before Thanksgiving even hit Korea, I had been sick almost a week. Now, it’s over two weeks later and this cold is hanging on with its icy toes. It doesn’t help that the weather has completely changed over the last week or so. Before Thanksgiving, the weather was a bit cold, but mostly decent and you could do things like go for an 8k walk. Since the 1st December, though, snow has hit on average 5 days out of 7. It’s much colder and this hasn’t helped me to recover at all—despite mostly staying inside, wrapped in a blanket, with the ondol (floor heating) and space heater on full blast. To top it all off, on Tuesday evening last week when I went to wash the dishes the gas wouldn’t turn on. Luckily it was just a loose cable and was quickly fixed. However, it gave me a pause: how lucky are we to have hot, running water at our beck and call? Seriously, I press a button and 2 minutes later I can jump into a hot shower. It’s fantastic. I’m nearly recovered from my cold now, and I owe it in part to one awful soup and one perfect soup. Obviously the awful soup, although packed with nutrients, is not share worthy, so onward to the perfect soup!

This soup was inspired by the Avoca Cafe Cookbook which one of my sisters got as a wedding gift. Avoca is an Irish family-run business with several cafes around Ireland. The cafe on Suffolk Street is a favourite place of mine to meet friends and family for lunch on the weekend. When I moved to Korea, I knew I’d probably only have a one-ring stove, so I asked my family for appropriate recipes. This was the one my sister shared with me, and I’ve made it a few times since. The first time I didn’t own a blender, and a blender definitely makes a world of difference!

While the soup below isn’t a Christmas soup per se, it reminds me of the season with the scent of oranges wafting through the air. It makes a nice meal for 2-3 with a nice hunk of buttered toast. I would suggest for Christmas that you serve it as a small starter.
Lastly, before the recipe a little story to make you smile: when I was in Homeplus with my friend, Stacy, to buy the ingredients for this soup, I was getting the oranges. I was looking at one upside down (see below picture) and I thought to myself “It’s completely dumb to name an orange after Flo Rida (a rapper)!” I am a little ashamed of how long it took me to realise it said Florida!
flo rida

Tomato, Orange and Lentil Soup

 (adapted from Avoca Cafe Cookbook)
Serves 2-3


  • 3½ tbsp butter/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion peeled and finely chopped.
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 3-5 whole cloves
  • 1 orange, grated for zest, peeled and chopped. Remove pith.
  • ½ cup red lentils, washed
  • 1 400g/14oz tin tomatoes
  • 2 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • salt and pepper, to season
  • mint, to serve (optional)
  • orange zest, to serve (optional)


  1.  Melt the butter in a large saucepan on medium heat.
  2. Once melted, add the onion and sweat for around 7 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cloves and sweat a further 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the lentils so that they are covered in butter.
  5. Stir in the zest and chopped oranges.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are cooked*.
  8. Blend well, season gently with salt and pepper, and reheat.
  9. Serve with toasted bread, and, if you want fresh mint** and orange zest.

*If you want, at this point remove the cloves.

**If, like me, you don’t have any fresh mint on hand, sprinkle a little dried mint on top.


Easier Prep: I would suggest before starting step 1, you prepare the onions, garlic, cloves and lentils. While the onions are cooking, prepare the stock, open the tomatoes and zest and chop the orange. Reserve some of the zest for the topping, if using.
Make for a larger crowd:  This recipe is easily doubled. Serve with lots of warm buttery toast to make it go even further.


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