Hearty Lentil Soup

I’m the sort of girl that wears five layers when everyone is wearing two.  For example, the weather yesterday hovered around 5°C in sunny Vancouver and I wore:

  1. Tank top
  2. Uniqlo heat tech thermal long sleeve shirt
  3. Thick wool turtleneck sweater
  4. Wool coat
  5. Blanket scarf

And I wore that with jeans, my thickest wooliest socks and knee high boots.

I used to think that looking out the window in the morning to see what people were wearing would be a good indicator of what to wear. Until I realized that in this weather there will be people in just a shirt and a sweater, or a shirt and a jacket.  No gloves and probably no thermal underwear.

At night, I struggle to stay warm without turning the heater on.  So I wear layers, a hoodie and socks and I think toasty toasty thoughts to keep me comfy and warm.  And if I have the energy, I make soup.  Because nothing is more comforting to me than a hot bowl of soup.

Last week I made lentil soup.  It’s not only delicious but also extremely nutritious which makes me love it even more.  It’s loaded with flavours from just a few humble ingredients that you probably have on hand already, aside from the lentils. This is one of my ultimate comfort foods and it’s absolutely sublime.

Puree part of it, all of it or none of it and this soup will warm you up like your favourite luxurious cashmere or alpaca wool blanket wrapped tightly around you. Wait a minute, I don’t have a cashmere or alpaca wool blanket. So Santa, if you’re reading this, wink wink! For now at least I have my lentil soup to keep me snuggly and warm.

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Lentil Soup
Adapted from Jamie Oliver

What you need:

6 rashers higher-welfare smoked streaky bacon, chopped
2 red onions, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, scrubbed and chopped
3 sticks celery, trimmed and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
a few sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
olive oil
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ chilli flakes
200 g dried lentils
410 g tinned cannellini beans (optional)
1 litre water (or any kind of stock you have on hand)
Olive Oil

What to do:

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1. Place a large saucepan (with a lid) on a medium heat. Add a lug of olive oil and the bacon. Fry slowly until the bacon has started to release all its tasty fat and goes crispy.

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2. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic followed by the dried thyme and chilli flakes.

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3. Cook gently with the lid on for about 15 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft, then add the lentils and 1 litre water or stock. Bring to a boil and simmer until the lentils are soft. (Check the packet instructions as different types of lentils vary in cooking time. If you’re mixing your lentils, cook for the longest amount of time to make sure they are all cooked properly).

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4. Add the tin of cannellini beans (including the liquid) and, if the soup’s a little thick, some more water until you are happy with the consistency. Bring back to the boil and simmer for another 10 minutes, then taste and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

5. Optional:  Puree some or all of the soup depending on how you like it.  I pureed a third of the soup.

6. Ladle into bowls and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and the chopped parsley. Serve with hunks of bread.

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