Saturday, May 29, 2010

Not just for hippies

It's still raining. And in this horrible weather I haven't felt like doing anything except curling up with a book and a Milo. I briefly considered doing some cooking last night, but the rainy-day apathy overcame me, so I got some fish n chips on the way home, and Moby and I spent the evening cocooned in my duvet. 

Today I was slightly more productive, turning my bedroom into a  steamy drying room for a week's worth of laundry. This took up most of my morning, but eventually my thoughts turned to what I was going to eat tonight. Soup seemed like a good idea, being cheap, easy, and weather-appropriate. I flicked through the soup chapter and decided on spicy lentil soup (p90).

That's right: lentils. Before any male readers' eyes glaze over, I should point out that there are also bacon bones and beef stock in the soup: just because it's got lentils in it doesn't mean it's a silly hippie dish. Stick some extra chopped bacon in it if you feel the need to make it more manly. Ok? Moving on...

I popped up to the supermarket for some celery, beef stock, bacon bones and lentils. Of course, since good old Countdown decided to do away with their bulk bins, I couldn't get any brown lentils. I wasn't prepared to settle for red, the only kind they had, so I stopped by Bin Inn on the way home.

Now I had all the ingredients, it was a simple matter of chopping up the celery, carrot and onion, and frying them with some garlic. I used pre-crushed garlic from a jar, mostly because it's easier when you don't own a garlic crusher, but also because I read in an Alison Holst book that the pre-crushed kind gives a better flavour in soups.

When the onion was cooked, I added the curry powder and stirred that through. Then the tomatoes, lentils, beef stock and bacon bones. Bring it all to the boil and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. What could be easier?

When the 1 1/2 hours were up, I fished out the bacon bones and removed every scrap of meat from them. It was quite astonishing how much meat I gleaned from three bare-looking bones! Then I went back through my pile of meat scraps, discarding any bits of fat or gristle, and returning the rest to the pot. A little salt and pepper, and the soup was ready.

Spicy lentil soup was definitely the right choice for a day like today. It's hearty, filling and very very tasty. I have no doubt I'll be making this one again. Despite the name, it's not spicy - there's a slight undertone from the curry powder, but most of the flavour comes from the bacon bones. Dare I say it, this soup could even enter the realms of 'man food', assuming the man in question did not know there were lentils in it!

So don't discount lentils. They're very cheap, filling and can be used to bulk out all sorts of meals. They're good for you too - almost no fat; low in calories; high in protein, fibre and iron, as well as folate and vitamin B (I don't actually know this stuff; I've been Googling). So why wouldn't you add some lentils to your diet? Try this soup for starters.


  1. Mmmm sounds good! I'm guessing even the celery will cook down to be unrecognizable (another one of those things men seem not to like much).May well give it a go some time. Thanks Robs.c

  2. I'll have you know that I once bought and cooked with lentils. A rather interesting bean and choritzo soup. MMM, where is that recipie, actually...

  3. Sounds really good! I wish we could get bacon bones here... :(

  4. You have given us a mission for today: find bacon bones somewhere on this peninsular!! I suppose we could use pork hocks (basically the same, just not smoked) instead?
    I think I've made this soup before in NZ, and I think I really liked it!!


  5. Mum: yup, the veges are quite finely chopped, so they cook down quite well. Love to see you attempt to feed this one to Carl!

    Joska: I'm not at all surprised you've ccoked with lentils - they're the ideal ingredient for the frugally-minded ;-). Your soup sounds pretty good too. If you find that recipe, pass it on!

    Bryn & Liz: Good luck with your bacon bone mission. I reckon a pork hock might be worth a try if you can't find any.


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