A perfectly spiced, healthy autumn and winter warmer soup, with fennel red lentils, garlic, celery and onions.


Difficulty: Beginner Prep Time 15 mins Cook Time 15 mins Total Time 30 mins
Servings: 2
Best Season: Suitable throughout the year


This is a much loved soup which my mister never fails to request the minute the weather is cold. Over the years I have adapted it to whatever is in my fridge, but the base ingredients are always the same – onions, celery, garlic, tomato paste, paprika and red lentils. If the fridge yields carrots, or courgettes, fresh coriander or parsley, I add that too, along with a stock cube salt and pepper and red chillies in oil for seasoning.  I use a pressure cooker to bring all the ingredients together quickly and then blend it with a hand blender.

This time I have added a key ingredient - fennel, both fresh and toasted seeds, which adds a lovely aromatic anise flavour. And to boot, it has all sorts of health benefits too - it's high in nutrients and fibre, rich in potassium and vitamin C - perfect for warding off winter ailments. 

I had my hand blender poised, but then decided the texture was actually lovely as it was.

Options: I have kept it veggie and garnished with some toasted fennel seeds, paprika and pul biber but by all means be creative and garnish with roast vegetable crisps or my favourite, fried chorizo, crumbled bacon or pancetta crisps.

Make a big potful, it freezes well. But it goes fast, so you will be lucky if you can steal a bowlful for a lunch for one in secret! This recipe will feed two for a main course or 4 as a starter. Double the recipe if you want to freeze or feed more people.

Eat it with my focaccia bread, or some buttered crisp sourdough toast



  1. Prep: Chop the onions, celery, fennel, and garlic. (and any other veg, carrots or courgette , if adding)

    Puree the tomatoes.

    Rinse and drain the lentils.

    Toast the fennel seeds and lightly crush in a pestle

  2. Heat the oil in your pressure cooker. Add the onions, garlic, fennel and celery and saute for 7/8 mins on medium heat till softened. 

  3. Add the lentils, and mix. 

    Add the tomatoes and the puree, the chillies, salt, cumin, and half the paprika. Mix up the stock cube with 4 cups of hot water and add to the pot. Seal the pressure cookere and cook on high heat for 5 mins, turn the heat down to medium and cook for a further 5 min. Turn the heat off and wait for a few minutes, then let out the steam. 

    (If you are using carrots you may need to cook for a few more minutes.)

  4. You have your soup! You can blend it with a hand blender if you like or leave as it is. It  is your preference.

    Now for the garnish. 

    Heat 1 tbs of oil in a small pan. Add the fennel seeds, remaining paprika, pul piber. Take off the heat. 




  5. Put the soup in your bowls. (If serving as a starter, try pretty cups and saucers) 

    Spoon over the fennel seed, paprika and pul biber mix 

    Serve with my focaccia bread (see recipe, search for bread) or  toasted buttered sourdough bread.

    See above for alternative garnishes. Enjoy your soup! I would love to hear from you as to how you enjoyed the soup. 

Keywords: fennel, celery, onions, fennel seeds, spices, garlic.
Recipe Card powered by WP Delicious