Lentil Soup for Neil

Lentils never fail to remind me of The Young Ones. I don’t think Neil, who was in charge of cooking, ever managed to make a lentil dish that didn’t end up on the floor or with washing powder in it, but he was vegetarian. So this soup is dedicated to poor downtrodden Neil. At least my lentils are edible.

No preparatory photos tonight, I’m afraid. I wasn’t planning to make a post as I was just experimenting and was also very tired from a long and arduous swim. But I quite enjoyed the results so I figured I’d write the recipe up if for no other reason than to remind myself what I did the next time I decide I want lentils, or Neil, Vyvyan, Rick, and Mike come over for dinner.

I’d been thinking I wanted to do something involving both lentils and bulgur, and searches for those ingredients led me to several recipes for Turkish wedding soup, or ezo gelin, so I guess this was inspired by that, although I didn’t use mint, which seems to be an important part of ezo gelin, and I did use a black lemon, which may or may not be used in Turkish food (I’m really not sure). It is a Middle Eastern ingredient. I mostly used the black lemon because I have them and had no idea what else I was going go do with them, so in the pot one went. It turned out to be a great touch. Black lemons are little, black, shriveled-up items that might actually be limes and not lemons. Figure that one out. You can just omit it if you don’t have them. I’m excited to experiment further with them though.

Lentil Soup for Neil

1 sweet onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
6 cups water or broth (I used 1 Tbsp Better Than Bouillon vegan “chicken” flavor)
1 1/2 cups lentils, red or brown (I used brown, which Neil seems to prefer)
1/4 cup bulgur
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (if you have it)
1 Tbsp sweet paprika
1 black lemon
1/2 tsp cayenne
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
lemon wedges for garnish

In a pressure cooker if you have one (or a large pot if you don’t), heat a bit of oil then add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, and garlic and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the water or broth, lentils, bulgur, tomato paste, and spices except the salt and pepper. If using a pressure cooker, cook at high pressure for 20 minutes, otherwise, cook until lentils and bulgur are soft (about 45 minutes). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with lemon wedges. Don’t try to be all artistic like me and stick the lemon wedges IN the soup because then it’s messy when you go to squeeze them over the soup.

I quite liked this. When I took the lid off the pressure cooker and stuck my spoon in for a taste, I was surprised how good it was, which is when I decided to go ahead and post it even without photos. As far as the black lemon, I think you can grind them up and use them as a powder, but I wanted to find out what happened if I just tossed it in whole. It eventually softened and deflated, then began to disintegrate. The taste it added was tangy without being as tart as lemon juice. I’m going to think of more things to do with the remaining black lemons. If it weren’t nearing 1 a.m. and if I weren’t completely depressed from watching Control, I’d take a picture for you, but we’ll save that for tomorrow, shall we?


  1. Destiny Said,

    August 10, 2008 @ 3:46 pm

    Yum. That soup looks super tasty & uses ingredients I always have around (I bet the smoked paprika gives it a slight “bacony” flavor). I feel like most people look down on lentils, but they are sadly mistaken. Thank you for the recipe & lentil love!

  2. Alexis Said,

    August 19, 2008 @ 11:08 pm

    YUM. You clearly have the gift of soup improvisation, an area in which I’m sadly lacking. I made a version of this minus the smoked paprika and black lemon (don’t have any, sadly) and it is unbelievably tasty for lentil soup.

  3. renae Said,

    August 20, 2008 @ 11:19 am

    Soup is probably my favorite thing to improvise because I figure if I mess it up, I can just keep adding water or stock to cover up my mistakes! I’m glad you liked it.

  4. margie Said,

    September 5, 2014 @ 10:22 pm

    i actually found this delicious-looking recipe of yours because i was trying to find the name of the young ones episode where vyvyan broke through the kitchen wall & landed on the table 😀 ~ i’m pretty sure that he knocked the lentil soup/stew onto the floor:) ~still trying to find out which episode that is! in the meantime, i cannot wait to follow your recipe 😀

  5. margie Said,

    September 5, 2014 @ 10:30 pm

    hi, renae! just a follow-up: it was “demolition”, & i was wrong …. neil’s lentil casserole was already on the floor before vyvyan crashed through onto the kitchen table! just wanted to tell you so that you wouldn’t be up all night worried about it! 🙂
    vegetable rights & peace!

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