lentil soup

this lentil soup is an old favourite – comfort food from the days when i was a poor student, a vegetarian (over 10 years ago) and the days when i was still learning to love lentils and beans.

it is a recipe from rose elliott’s bean book, a cookery book which i remember my mum using when i was a child and which i still turn to.

this lentil soup is very traditional and comforting with the gentle flavours of onion, carrot and red lentils. it is lifted, however, by a squeeze of lemon juice and, if you’re feeling a bit more decadent than i was on an austere january day, it is lovely with yoghurt swirled through or, as rose elliott suggests, curried croutons.

if you want to lift the flavours further, stir a teaspoon of thai curry paste in with the onions and add some chopped coriander when you serve it.

rose elliott’s lentil soup with curried croutons (serves 6*)

25g butter (or oil if you want a vegan soup)

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

125-225g lentils**

850ml unsalted stock (i used marigold bouillon powder)

1 bayleaf

up to 275ml milk

2 teaspoons lemon juice

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

for the croutons:

3 slices bread

oil for shallow frying

1 teaspoon curry powder

melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the onion and carrot and fry until they are lightly browned. wash and drain the lentils and mix them in with the carrot and onion. stir for a minute or two so the lentils get coated with the butter then add the stock and bayleaf. bring up to the boil then turn down the heat and let the mixture simmer gently for 30 minutes, until the lentils and vegetables are cooked.

while the soup is cooking, make the croutons. remove the crusts from the bread then cut it into 1cm dice. heat a little oil in a frying pan and add the bread. sprinkle with the curry powder and turn the bread in the oil so it gets crispy all over and the curry powder is well-distributed. drain the croutons on kitchen paper.

when the soup is ready, remove the bayleaf and liquidize it to a smooth texture. add enough milk to bring it to a creamy consistency then mix in the lemon juice and plenty of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. reheat the soup gently but don’t let it boil. serve the soup in individual bowls with a few croutons on top of each.

* david and i polished off a full batch for lunch so, if you’re having this as a main meal, adjust the quantities accordingly.

** varying the amount of lentils will alter the soup’s consistency. i like quite a thick soup so used 200g.