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spicy tomato & lentil soup

My family all love making soup, consequently we are prolific soup makers. In short, my parents taught me how to make a great bowl of soup, it was a staple part of my diet growing up. My parents had a huge vegetable garden and as a result we ate fresh seasonal produce, hence lots of soup. The smell of Scotch Broth bubbling on the stove-top immediately evokes memories of my Dad cooking broth on a Saturday night for Sunday’s lunch.

Hence to this day I continue to make lots of soup on a weekly basis. After all is there a better way to load in extra vegetables for our 5-a-day? Given the choice for lunch, more often than not I have a pan of soup at the ready. Furthermore, soup is the perfect food to serve on a night where I’m juggling dinner between children’s activities and my husband coming home from work. Always homemade as I can’t abide tinned soup.

My youngest daughter is challenging to cook for (I’m putting this very politely). She loves lentil soup, there was a time when she would only eat soup if it was orange. I’m glad she settled on this colour as it’s surprising just how much soup you can make that has a good orange hue to it! However, we were all getting a bit fed up with basic lentil so I decided to spice things up a bit.

This soup is a basic tomato and lentil soup, however I’ve added some lovely spice to boost the taste. I’ve blitzed the soup so that the tomato isn’t evident as I wanted everyone eating!

A creamy element can be added to the soup therefore softening the spice. Simply stir through a spoon of yogurt before serving, alternatively use coconut milk if following a Vegan diet.

Spicy tomato & lentil Soup PIN

 

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Spicy Tomato & Lentil Soup

spicy tomato & lentil soup

A creamy tomato and lentil soup with a good punch of spice, perfect for crisp autumn days when the weather is just that bit chilly outside.

Course Soup
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 2 sticks celery diced
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 5 cm root ginger grated
  • 2 red chillies de-seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 400 g tin plum tomatoes
  • 150 g red lentils washed and drained
  • 1 ltr vegetable stock
  • salt & pepper to season

Instructions

  1. Heat the sunflower oil in a large soup pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery and saute gently for 5 minutes taking care to soften but not brown the vegetables.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli to the pan and continue to saute gently for a further 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the dry spices to the pan and stir well to combine. Cook for 1 minute until the spices start to release their aroma.
  4. After a good rinse under cold water, add the lentils and the tinned tomatoes to the pan along with the vegetable stock. Bring the soup to the boil before turning down to a simmer and covering with a lid. Stir the soup from time to time to avoid it sticking. The soup should cook for 40 minutes or until the lentils have softened.
  5. Once cooked, blitz the soup with a stick blender. Season to taste and serve when ready.

Recipe Notes

If you wish to add a creamy element to this soup, you can stir through either a spoon of natural yogurt or if following a vegan or dairy-free diet, a spoon of coconut milk, just before serving.

 

Shared with CookBlogShare, where you will also find recipes by fellow food bloggers.

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River Cottage HQ: 3 lunches

In the second of our blog posts following our recent trip to River Cottage HQ in East Devon we’re going to focus on the food. We wanted to share with you what we cooked, and ate on the day itself.

Coming back in from our tour of the garden we set to work with our Chef/Trainer for the day Connor. Each new recipe was demonstrated by Connor, with questions encouraged throughout.  After that it was back to our work stations to try out each of the recipes for ourselves. Connor was both knowledgeable and helpful, we learned some great tips during the day.

One such tip – grate a tomato straight into the pan for your tomato sauce, leaving the skin in your hand. Who would have thought something so simple would add such speed to a dish! No more submerging tomatoes in boiling water for me, there really is more than one way to skin a tomato! A further revelation was how little you need to make a vegetable stock using our vegetable scraps, along with herbs from the garden. Also it’s worth mentioning not to add onion skin as it colours the stock and adds a bitterness you don’t want.

River Cottage had some gherkins ready so as an extra that day we also made pickles. Connor encouraged us to go into the garden and forage for aromatics and flavourings for our pickle. I opted for lemon verbena, garlic chive flowers and nasturtium seed pods which have a lovely peppery taste (who knew!). Michelle went for a different set of flavours so we could enjoy a little taste comparison later. Pickles are best when left to sit and as we’d travelled with hand luggage we were going to have to leave them. A huge thank you to Vanessa from The Juicing Company who volunteered to take our pickles back up North for us. Very kind but also a great excuse to meet up again once we’re all home!

 

The staff warned us all right up front not to be too greedy too quickly, advice we were glad we paid heed to as we ate lots! We enjoyed eating everything we made, however most noteworthy was the carrot hummus, simply beautiful to eat warm. Also our entire work station loved the hot sweetcorn salsa! However, if pushed I think the aubergine curry was a real hit as we both love aubergine. This recipe was quick to make and packed full of flavour, ready in 20 minutes. Here’s a few photographs of what we cooked:

 

lunch 1: carrot hummus, french beans with tomatoes, sweetcorn with chilli & coriander

 

lunch 2: vegetable broth with summer cabbage & tomatoes

 

lunch 3: aubergine & green bean curry

Finally, to end our day of cooking, Connor had kindly made us some River Cottage Watermint sorbet – a perfect palate cleanser after the spicy curry. Connor then went on to point out that not only had we cooked vegetarian that day but in fact the entire day was Vegan. Now it’s fair to say that neither of us are going to be giving up meat any time soon! That said, it did highlight how easy it is to take good seasonal produce and cook meat and dairy free.

Since coming home I no longer look at my vegetables in quite the same way. With a little thought and attention you can produce a lovely plate of food, with very little. I’ve taken vegetable scraps and filled my freezer with lovely vegetable stock. The hot sweetcorn salsa is a real hit with my daughter who loves it. Furthermore I’ve used techniques learned on the day to rethink our own recipes.

We’ve decided to share the recipe for carrot hummus, not our recipe but definitely one we will be making again.

River Cottage: carrot hummus

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 medium carrots (sliced)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 6 tbsp olive oil (you can substitute rapeseed oil)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt & pepper

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 160CFan. Slice the carrots and using a little oil saute the carrots in an oven-roof saucepan. After 5 minutes cover the carrots with a little water until just level with the top of the carrots and place in the oven for an hour.
Allow the carrots to cool slightly then add all remaining ingredients to the pan and blitz together using a stick blender, season to taste. Adjust other flavourings as your see fit. Delicious served warm.

Note

Once the hummus has been made, adjust the flavouring to your taste as you may need to add more tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt.

This recipe would also work well with other vegetables like butternut squash or with pulses like butter beans. You could just as easily use leftover roasted vegetables.

 

 

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River Cottage HQ

Those who follow us on Social Media you will know that we’ve just returned from a cookery course at River Cottage in East Devon. Earlier this year Michelle entered a competition via fellow food blog Lavender & Lovage and was excited to see that she won the prize. Michelle had won a hamper of gluten free cereal goods from Nature’s Path. Delighted as she never wins anything, and we all love to win something, we left it at that.

A few days later whilst sitting over a coffee she got really excited as an email came through asking her to confirm her address for the cereals. This email also let her know River Cottage HQ in would be in touch regarding the course … what course? Turns out that as well as the lovely hamper, Michelle had also won a day’s training at River Cottage HQ, a Vegetable Course for 2 people. To say we were both delighted would be understating things! We have talked about going to River Cottage and now we were lucky enough to get the chance to go.

Our arrival:

We arrived at River Cottage to be met by the tractor that transported us down to the Cottage itself. Upon arrival we were met by Steve, Front of House and our host for the day. We took our places at a cook station, and were joined by Lynne, a retired teacher from London and Vanessa from The Juice Company. All the way to Devon to meet a foodie from Stonehaven! Introductions over our Chef and Trainer for the day Connor arrived to get our day started.

 

The Garden at River Cottage:

The day started with a tour of the garden with River Cottage gardener Dave. A keen gardener, I took the opportunity to ask lots of questions, from crop rotation when space is limited, to pruning fruit trees. We learned about organic growing methods, all of it kept simple and achievable regardless of the size of your garden. In particular I loved the extensive herb patch, something we would be allowed to forage in later that day. An hour well spent looking at what the garden is able to produce itself.

 

 

Cooking and lots of eating:

After that it was non-stop cooking for the rest of the day, or should I say cooking and a lot of eating! Our next blog, entitled “River Cottage: 3 lunches!” will go into more detail about the food we cooked. The produce we used was amazing, grown on the farm or other farms local to the area. Beautiful, fresh, often mis-shapen vegetables, oh to have the weather and space to grow half of it here.

If you ever get a change to go to River Cottage take it! The whole day had a lovely relaxed vibe, despite getting through a serious amount of cooking. We ate all we cooked and we ate well. Only at the end of the day did Connor point out that all we’d eaten was vegetables. No meat, no dairy and no cereals or pulses. A completely Vegan day that made Vegetables the hero.Every member of staff we met was friendly and helpful, not even breaking a sweat when I set my pan on fire (me and 3 others). A huge thanks to the kitchen staff who cleared away all the dirty dishes we placed on the “magic” table and brought back beautifully clean.

Finally a thank you to the lovely Lynne and Vanessa who we shared a work station with. Meeting both of these interesting and friendly women made a great day even better. We wish you both well as you really made the day for us.

It’s also worth mentioning that Michelle very kindly donated the Gluten Free Nature’s Path hamper to my Mum who is Coeliac. My Mum tried all the goodies, granolas, cereals and cereals bars and reported that they are something she will definitely buy again. Delicious, good quality, gluten free products, she’d recommend them to anyone suffering from Coeliac disease or who has a wheat intolerance.