I sometimes think my friend Belinda must be Superwoman disguised as a very chic, 30-something Brisbanite.

Not only a brilliant mother to two adorable children while excelling in a fast-paced career, she’s a master in the kitchen and incredibly witty to boot. She also gets up early on weekends to go to the gym. Methinks this qualifies her as a super-being.

Anyway, Belinda has kindly shared with us a special winter-warming soup. I reckon you should try it. She knows what she’s doing.

Caramelised onion and lentil soup

What goes in:

2 cups red lentils
½ cup brown rice
1 litre vegetable stock
1 litre water
3 brown onions, halved and sliced thinly
1-2 tbsp raw sugar
1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (I recommend Pukara Estate aged caramelised balsamic – liquid crack!)
Top quality olive oil (I use Clovely Estate’s own brand, South Burnett Agricultural Company)
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp turmeric
6 cardomom pods
1/3 cup fresh coriander, chopped
1 cup extra vege stock/water (optional)

How you do it:

Rinse the lentils and rice in a sieve under cold water until water runs clear. Combine the stock and water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add lentils and rice and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add dried spices. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until lentils are tender.

Meanwhile, add a good-sized glug of olive oil to a frypan over medium-high and cook onion until it softens, stirring regularly. Add the balsamic and sugar to taste and continue stirring until onions are caramelised.

Add the onions to the lentils along with the extra stock (if needed) and the fresh coriander and stir through. I usually also add a handful or two of fresh spinach leaves at this point too. Serve!

Tips: Most of the dried spices are optional. The original recipe only called for the ground cumin but after a bit of experimentation – some deliberate, most accidental – I hit upon this winning mix. If you’re using a caramelised balsamic you won’t need much sugar but if you’re using a regular balsamic you’ll need a bit more to sweeten the onions. Also, the onions can be sautéed in a big knob of butter rather than olive oil for a creamier – but very vegan unfriendly – taste. I also often forget about the fresh coriander so start making it before I realise I don’t have any. Still tastes great without!