I thought it was time I cobbled up a new vegetarian soup recipe as I tend to stick with two favourites lately, Roasted Cauliflower & Potato which, frankly, is amazingly good (I’ve made it with King Edwards and with Rooster, and I prefer Rooster, though both are very good – not just my opinion, by the way), and Cannellini Beans and Vegetables .
If the Cauliflower and Potato has a downside, it’s a lack of protein, so I’ve taken to adding cannellini beans to it once it’s cooked. They don’t affect the flavour of the soup, though you can taste the beans themselves. Add some good bread and that’s your protein sorted.
Anyway, today is a really shitty day, I’m overloaded with retained fluid (2.7kg, the better part of 3 litres worth), my breathing has gone to hell as a result – the fluid is either in my abdominal cavity, pushing up my diaphragm and constricting my lungs, or in my chest, doing the same thing but directly. It feels like the former, so I’ve made an executive decision and doubled my diuretic.
And I’ve decided that I can either sit here pretending to write – this is the third blog post I’ve had a go at today – and worrying myself into an early grave, or I can get out in the kitchen, work up a new soup recipe (it’s no harder to breath standing than sitting – might be a tad easier in fact, as sitting compresses the abdomen), and write it up.
This is it:-
2 cooking onions (or whatever medium-sized onions you have), finely chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled, quartered lengthways and chopped
3 slices off a medium swede, about 6mm thick, peeled and diced
2 Kallo organic vegetable cubes
300g Organic red lentils
150g frozen peas
6 stoned Deglet Nour dates, finely chopped – I put 12 in, so add more if you like, but start with 6, see how it tastes if you’re a novice when it comes to fruit in a savoury dish. I would have used these cherries, but I’m out of them, but the dates work well.
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 generous knobs of butter, preferably clarified
½ teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon garlic granules
1 tablespoon coriander leaf
Maldon Sea Salt and black pepper
As always with red lentils, this is a two-stage process, but neither stage is onerous. As regular readers will know, I give my recipes (when I don’t forget!**), a Spoonie rating. Naturally enough this is based on my abilities which, these days, are severely circumscribed.
**If I do, feel free to remind me.
I can’t, for example, cook a dish that needs constant attention as I need frequent breaks to sit down and rest – which is what I’m doing while I’m typing this. Basically, if I say something is easy (1 spoon), it really is, and if I say get someone else to do it (6 spoons), I quite definitely mean it! No rating system is perfect for everyone, but this is as honest as I can make it.
So, for openers, melt one knob of butter in your pan or casserole pot (my usual 3-litre stainless steel casserole), and sweat off the onions over a gentle heat until soft but not coloured, then stir in the paprika and cumin, adding a little more butter if it’s a bit dry, and cook off for about 5 minutes,
Dissolve the stock cubes, and add to the pot with the garlic and celery salt, plus the carrots and swede, and enough boiling water to cover. Bring back to the boil, reduce to a simmer and leave alone, except for an occasional stir, until the veg are soft.
Then bring back to a rolling boil, add the peas, continue to boil until soft, then toss in the dates and reduce to a simmer again.
While the veg are cooking, cook the lentils.
In a smaller pan, melt the remaining butter, then add the lentils (the ones I buy – same source as the dates and paprika – are exceptionally clean so I don’t rinse them), and cook them over a medium heat for about 10-15 minutes. Pour in enough boiling water to cover, and simmer (and boil more as it will be rapidly absorbed).
Topping up the water as needed, cook the lentils, stirring frequently, until smooth and creamy, then add to the main pot, stirring well. If you haven’t overdone the water at any point, that will fill a 3-litre pot to within 2 centimetres of the top.
Allow to simmer for 15 minutes more, just to ensure the lentils are fully cooked, then add the coriander leaf, stir in, and set aside to cool.
When cool enough, taste and adjust the seasoning. Refrigerate overnight, when cold, to allow the flavours to snuggle up and do their thing while you’re not watching.
Reheat gently next day, stirring frequently – red lentils are buggers for sticking if you don’t.
I usually say serve with good bread. Personally, that’s either my own, Sainsbury’s 800g sourdough boule, or Tesco’s sourdough bloomer. The bloomers are small enough to freeze, the boules I cut in half first (1 bloomer or half a boule will last me 2 or 3 days). In both cases I double-bag them.
Three spoons, the third because of the second pan for the lentils. I’d still rate it as easy to moderately easy overall though.