Red Lentil Soup With A Californian Friend

The moving process began on Thursday.  it was a long and busy day, but everything went smoothly.  On Friday, a dear friend from Los Angeles who is here visiting family, hopped on a bus ( like she does everywhere she goes in the world) and made her way across town. She got off at the Double Bay shops and then made her way up the hill to our new house.

It felt like old times to be sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of tea, Izzy, and catching up on all kinds of news about family and mutual friends. DT chatted about  new restaurants and stores in our old haunts ( you’ll be able to check on them in November ; how exciting to be heading back for a visit! ) and what everyone is up to in Santa Monica.

Around us, action swirled, as an electrician, plumbers and carpet layers worked to finish their projects. My phone kept ringing, interrupting.

I would have loved to have wandered up the road to our new ‘local’ with D for lunch.  I imagined us sitting under those huge Jackson Bay Figs and having a simple lunch, and a good coffee.  But all the workmen on site meant we had to stay close to home.

We ended up making a lentil soup, which was about the nicest thing to do: we were back in the kitchen together, pottering, chatting . I wish she’d move back to Australia…..

Lentil soup is your favourite standby: we made it slightly differently though, and I think you will be pleased with the improvement of barley in it: it gives it more substance, and a chewy element. You know how the orange lentils don’t mash down to a creamy consistency like some other lentils do, and can in fact be a little ‘floury’. I thought that the barley rounded it out nicely! There are few ingredients involved, and the soup is always a pleaser. We ate it sitting outside in bright sunshine: ah, a Sydney winter!

Red Lentil Soup

  • 1 cup small red lentils
  • 1/2 cup barley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 a large onion, chopped
  • 1 large tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cummin seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 litres water


  1. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan, and brown the onion,  garlic and ginger with the cumin and fennel seeds.
  2. Add the lentils and stir well.
  3. Pour in the crushed tomatoes, water and tomato paste.
  4. Add the barley, and stir.
  5. Adjust seasoning to your liking.  You might like to add a squeeze of lemon juice, and a hint of chilli powder.
  6. Turn the heat to very low, and cook gently for about twenty minutes to half an hour.
  7. If the lentils bulk up too quickly, and soak up all the liquid, add half a cup of water at a time to adjust the thickness of the soup to your liking. If you have to do this, be sure to check for seasoning as you go along, as the additional liquid changes the flavours. 

Serve with a dollop of yogurt and some crusty bread! I have also sometimes added tiny cubes of potato at the frying onions stage for an even heartier version.

Yummy and hearty.

Tonight we are sitting at the kitchen table: Little C hidden under a ginormous pile of books, and me with my laptop.  We both have a refreshing glass of mint and lemon tea: mint leaves, a squeeze of lemon and a dash of honey. Mmmmm! More moving trucks tomorrow- bring ’em on!