22 Jan 2013

my favourite soup!

I first learnt how to make this soup three years ago in a large non-stick frying pan on top of an electric stove top in the school kitchen. With the only electric stove top oven (the other eleven were gas) in the kitchen assigned to my friend and I in year eight, I grew fond of it and it became my first oven choice throughout my high school years subsequent.

We made this soup during an early winter afternoon. The soup was ready with a batch of piping hot cheesy onion scones fresh from the oven (more about those next time!). Perfect for a lunch time meal in the dining room classroom with oversized baby blue gingham tablecloths spread across the tables. 

It's a very forgiving soup and I always rummage through the fridge for additional vegetables. This time I've added in a 3cm slice of pumpkin, but I've added diced zucchini, chopped string beans and spinach in earlier soups.

I like to eat this soup with lots (and lots) of freshly ground black pepper, but the soup is open to different flavours like ground cumin, ground coriander, garam masala, cayenne pepper and the likes. Just add them in small amounts with the salt.

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Red lentil soup     serves 4
adapted from a school recipe

50ml vegetable oil
1 large onion (or 2 small), peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, peeled and diced
150g red lentils
700ml vegetable stock
400g canned diced tomatoes
sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, chopped coriander and lemon wedge, to serve

Additional vegetables in sensible amounts (optional)
cubed root vegetables; pumpkin, sweet potato, etc.
chopped green vegetables; spinach, string beans, etc.

Rinse lentils in a bowl of water until water becomes almost clear. Remove foreign objects, if any. Drain.

Heat oil in a tall saucepan and saute onion and a pinch of salt until it becomes translucent. Add the carrot, celery and cubed root vegetables (if using) and gently saute for about 10 minutes. Add lentils and mix thoroughly with the vegetables. Add stock, canned tomatoes and stir. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 - 20* minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent lentils from sticking to the bottom. Add green vegetables (if using) 3 - 5 minutes before soup is ready.

Season soup and serve with freshly ground black pepper, chopped coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice.

*I usually simmer it until the stock just covers the lentils and vegetables. It should be thickened.