I find nothing more satisfying than making soup through the Winter months. So comforting and warms you from top to toe. Health-giving and cleansing, especially when made with nutritious home-made bone broth or, for the non-meat-eaters, vegetable stock which adds real depth of flavour.
My children happen to love soup and it is a great way to get their 5-a-day in too, their favourite one is tomato which in the winter I make with good-quality tinned tomatoes, George and Rose sit quietly dipping their warm buttery bread in. I sometimes add some tiny pasta to theirs to make it a more fulfilling tea.
So I am going to let you in on what I think is my secret of a great soup! I mentioned the importance of a good homemade bone broth or you could make a good veg stock if you are not a meat eater, The other important element is a slow cooked soffrito of celery, onion and carrot which needs to be diced finely, the smaller the dice the bigger the flavour. You want to cook it until it starts to caramelise (not burn!) around the pan, then add your additional flavours such as garlic and herbs or if you were doing a curried soup, you would then add your spices and cook for 2/3 minutes then your main ingredient and finally your stock.
The recipe below is ideal for the freezer and I thought with the cost of living right now this is a good one to have up your sleeve!
Puy Lentil, Cumin and Spinach Soup with Coriander Yoghurt
2tbsp Light Olive Oil
1 Brown Onion, peeled and finely diced
1 Stick of celery, trimmed and finely diced
1 Carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 Garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 tsp Cumin seeds
½ tsp Mild Chilli powder (omit if you do not want the spice)
1l homemade chicken stock or veg stock
160g Dried Puy Lentils
4 balls of frozen spinach
Small pot of Greek Yoghurt
A good handful of Coriander, chopped.
½ a Lemon
Salt and Pepper
Sweat the diced onion, celery and carrot in the olive oil until it is soft and starting to caramelise, around 5/7 minutes. Keep an eye on it! Then add your crushed garlic, cumin seeds and chilli, stir for a couple of minutes. Add your puy lentils, giving them a really good stir so they grab onto the flavours of that lovely soffrito. Do not season at this point as puy lentils do not like salt when they are raw and will not soften if you add salt now. Add the stock and pop the lid on for 30/35 minutes until your lentils are cooked but not mushy. While this is cooking, make your coriander yoghurt. Stir the chopped coriander through the yoghurt adding a squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper. Then add your frozen spinach ( A bag of this is great in the freezer for all sorts of things as you can just pull out a ball when you want it and let it defrost in the dish) Once your spinach is stirred through the dish, now is the time to check your seasoning, then you can either ladle it straight into bowls or whiz a couple of ladles in a blender to give it a creamier texture if this is what you like. I enjoy most of my soups with a hearty piece of warm sourdough with or without butter depending on how I am feeling, it usually ends up being the former!