Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Lovely Lentils

I stashed a few more things away in the Christmas cupboard today. The corner cupboard in my kitchen is currently playing host to lots of wine, beer, fancy chocolate biscuits, and many many snack products from ALDI. Then of course there's the cake, the pudding and mincemeat, plus sweeties and a selection of chutney and pickles.

And today was the toddler group Christmas party so more nibbling on mince pies and cake. Shame they don't have a 5-a-day guideline for confectionery really... But sometimes, just sometimes, all this festive food and drink feels a bit much. Over Christmas week I find myself craving fresh fruit and veg (as I plough through the tin of Celebrations - no self-control). Probably my favourite meal is on Boxing Day where it's all leftovers with a bit of salad and some good bread. Oh and pickles of course...

Also I was a vegetarian for many years and the amount of meat I end up consuming often makes me feel a bit queasy (although it is very tasty at the time.) So sometimes it's a relief to eat something a bit more basic, and Lentil Soup was on the menu tonight. It's also a helpful store-cupboard recipe for me, and is cheap. I tend to keep the cayenne pepper to a low background hum as the children are gradually building up their spice tolerance, but you can add more if you like it hotter.

400g dried red lentils
1 large onion
a couple of carrots
1 red pepper, roasted
several large cloves of garlic (depending on how garlicky you like things - for me VERY)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 - 2 litres of cold water
salt and pepper

How to make:
1. The roasted red pepper is optional, but does add a bit more interest. I usually chop it up into big pieces and roast it in the oven for about 20 minutes while I'm cooking the soup
2. Finely chop the onion and fry in a little oil in a large pan until soft
3. Chop the garlic and add to the onions. Then chuck in the spices and mix well
4. Add the lentils to the pan along with at least 1 litre of cold water. Mix again and turn the heat up to bring the pan up to the boil
5. Let the lentils bubble vigorously for 10 minutes with the lid off. Keep an eye and give it the occasional stir to stop it burning on the bottom. You may need to add more water.
6. While the lentils are bubbling, peel and chop the carrots. When the 10 minutes are up, add the carrots to the pan.
7. Turn the heat down until the soup is just simmering and cook with the pan covered for another 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
8. Throw the red pepper pieces into the pan and blend the soup until fairly smooth
9. Season well with salt and pepper
10. Serve with chunks of bread and butter


  1. I love lentil soup, and usually make a really really simple one of just boiled lentils in chicken stock with garlic (our staple for when the cupboards run a little bare and we're trying to wait a bit before going shopping). It's the perfect meal for thsi time of year, with some home made bread and cheese. Yum. I will give your recipe a try.

  2. Yes, definitely the time of year for hearty soups...

  3. I've been intrigued about lentils for ages but was never sure about how to use them so thank you for what seems to be a straightforward recipe!