In my first ‘deconstructing grains’ recipe I have used bulgar. I can’t believe I have never tried this very lovely grain before in my cooking. The cracked wheat resembles couscous, but has a slightly different and richer taste. Plus I am living opposite all these Turkish shops in my new home in Amsterdam and bulgar is everywhere! However, if you don’t have Turkish shops nearby, you should be able to find bulgar in the natural section of the supermarket and if not, health food shops should stock it.
For this dish, I have used a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe, he is part of the River Cottage family and has amazing recipes, all promoting ‘real food’ and is a great advocate of cooking with many vegetables.
For the soup
100g of red lentils
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (dried will also work)
A large pinch of salt
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 litre of vegetable stock
50g of bulgur cracked wheat (make sure you don’t buy bulgar grain which can take up to an hour to cook. Bulgar cracked wheat looks very similar to couscous and takes a quarter of the time to cook).
1½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
1-2 tbsp of thick yoghurt
For the flavoured oil
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried mint (I used parsley which also worked well)
½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
Place the lentils in a sieve and rinse well. Put the oil in large saucepan on medium heat. Saute the onion with the thyme and a good pinch of salt until the onions soften up and turn golden. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the tomato puree, stir, then tip the vegetable stock, bulgar, lentils and paprika. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the lentils and bulgar are very soft.
While the soup is cooking, make the flavoured oil. Warm the olive oil and butter in a pan until the butter melts. Take off the heat and add the paprika and mint (or parsley).
When the lentils and bulgar are cooked, you can blend it for a soup type texture. Or you can do as I did, and leave it as it is for a more wholesome, thick dish. Season to your liking and serve with yoghurt and the flavoured oil. If you want more colour, sprinkle on some more paprika and enjoy!