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Chef and Food Writer

Claire Thomson is a UK-based chef and food writer with experience of running busy restaurants. However, her biggest challenge is not feeding hungry customers but hungry children. Faced with the daily decision of what to cook for her three young children, Claire made it her mission to inspire other parents stuck in a teatime rut. Every day she makes a ‘proper’ tea, which she tweets at 5pm. From that her popular blog '5 O’clock Apron' was born, followed by a Guardian column on cooking for children.

With her book, the Five O’Clock Apron, Claire aims to inspire other parents and reinvigorate the concept of family cookery. Featuring sections on milk, bread, grains, pulses, rice, vegetables, fruit and fish, she demonstrates that cooking shouldn't be a chore, with one meal for the grown-ups and another for the children. In her new book, The Art of the Larder (set to be released in April 2017), Claire will dedicate an entire chapter to pulses.

More from Claire Thomson

Claire Thomson
Photo Credit: Claire Thomson

Syrian Lentil 'Soup'

Syrian Lentil 'Soup'

From Claire Thomson:
I first had this thick soup cooked for me by a chef friend who worked in London’s Moro restaurant. Earthy bold lentils made piquant with coriander, yoghurt and lemon, this is just one of the many ways my kids will wolf them down.

4 Person(s)
Preparation time
0 min
Cooking time
0 min

Super easy


  • 300 g lentils (green or brown)
  • 3 medium onions, finely sliced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 3 heaped tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 lartge bunch fresh coriander (stalks and leaves separated)
  • 1 3/4 litres cold water
  • 4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 1/2 clove garlic, crushed
  • salt
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • chilli flakes


  1. Soak the lentils in a bowl of cold water, rinsing them several times to remove any dirt or grit.
  2. Over a moderate heat, cook the onions in the oil for a good 10 minutes. You want them soft and beginning to turn golden.
  3. Add the garlic and toasted cumin and continue to fry over a moderate heat for another couple of minutes.
  4. Add the coriander stalks and the water, or enough to fully cover the lentil mix. Turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Skim off any froth that surfaces. Turn the temperature down and continue to cook at a moderate bubble for about 30 minutes, watching the water level – you can always top it up a little if you need to.
  5. While the lentils are cooking, mix the yoghurt with the crushed garlic and a pinch of salt.
  6. When the lentils are ready, take them off the heat. You want the individual lentils to be completely squishable between two fingers and the whole to be a soupy mass.
  7. Taste the lentils and add salt as needed. Add the lemon juice.
  8. Serve the lentils in bowls and to each add a spoonful of seasoned yoghurt, some coriander leaves, a sprinkle of chilli flakes and a spoonful of olive oil.
  9. We like to eat this with warm flatbreads, to mop up the lentils.

Recipe notes

The 5 O’ Clock Apron (Ebury Press, £20) is not just a recipe book, but a way of thinking about how to shop, cook, eat and celebrate as a family. Claire's fresh, exciting meals are versatile and flavourful enough to please everyone around the table, encouraging parents to view food differently, to refresh their culinary imaginations and find real joy in cooking for their children.