My mum used to make the most delicious lentil soup.
It came into my mind recently - thinking about this soup she used to make maybe 27 years ago ... it was garlicky and yummy and bubbling away on the AGA with French bread warming in the oven to have with it.
I forgot to look for the recipe in her great big falling-apart book of written recipes and tucked in hand-written ones from others and yet more torn from magazines and newspapers too.
Next time I'm there and I remember, I'll look for it, but I wanted to make something like it today, and so made this.
My version will definitely be quicker as I'm using a tin of green lentils and I know my mum would have used red lentils from the jar, dried red lentils that would have needed soaking overnight before cooking for a long time.
So, here's my super-simple version - and I find this so nurturing, nourishing, comforting and all round GOOD at this time of year, when the leaves are falling and the nights drawing in.
And here's what you'll need to make two bowlfuls (either two bowls for one, or one each for two people - cook's choice!).
1 smallish brown onion
1 medium carrot
1 stick of celery
2-3 cloves of garlic (mine were small so I had three)
cooking oil (I use a spray oil like THIS one)
tin (265g) of green lentils, drained and rinsed in cold water
500ml vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
ideas to garnish to to serve: crispy bacon pieces, Greek yogurt, slices of red chilli, fresh chopped parsley leaves, more black pepper
You want to chop the onion, carrot and celery very finely - the easiest way is to use a food processor.
Then finely chop the garlic and add to the other vegetables.
Put a little oil (I use 20 sprays of my spray cooking oil) into a saucepan, add the vegetables and cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes, stirring all the time so it doesn't stick or burn - add a tiny splash of water if it does look like it will.
Then add the lentils, vegetable stock and herbs, stir and bring to the boil.
Add a lid (slightly ajar), reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Stir and check to see if it needs a little more water, and then cover and simmer again for another 15 minutes.
At the end of this time, remove the lid, stir again, add a little more water if it needs it - or you like a thinner soup - and simmer again on the lowest heat for a final 15 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
You can then serve it as it is or blend it first. I prefer it blended and I also like to add a spoonful of yogurt at this stage.
Garnish with whatever you choose! I had another dollop of Greek yogurt, a couple of slices of red chilli and a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper.
Serve as it is or make more of a meal with it by having with some warm crusty baguette and a green salad too.