Kumara, Lentil Soup with Balsamic Onions

This is from Peter Gordon’s cookbook “A World in My Kitchen” which is one of his earlier cookbooks. This is simple, earthy and nourishing so have made it many a time not only just in winter but anytime I want a quick and easy meal. All you need is some good crusty bread.


80 grams butter

200 grams onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

12 sage leaves, torn in half

1 medium leek, washed and finely sliced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

400 grams orange kumara, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes

1/3 cup split red lentils, rinsed

1 litre vegetable stock or water

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large red onion, finely sliced

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 large handful chopped parsley

Salt to taste


Melt butter in a deep saucepan over a high heat until nut brown and foamy. Add onion and cumin seeds. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring to prevent burning.

Add sage, leek, garlic and kumara and stir well. Add lentils and stock and bring to the boil. Simmer 30 minutes, until lentils and kumara are tender.

While soup is cooking, heat oil in a small frying pan, add red onion and cook over a moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until it begins to caramelise. Add vinegar and sugar, cook until the vinegar has evaporated, then remove from heat.

Adjust soup for seasoning and stir in parsley. Ladle into bowls and dollop the onions on top.

Serves 4 -6

Cook’s notes:

In New Zealand, we refer to sweet potatoes as kumara (Ipomea batatas). We get the red, orange, buff yellow and purple varieties.

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