Many of my work day lunches are soup. I find that having a delicious, healthy but hearty soup fills me up without making me feel sleepy and tired come 3pm, and it’s a good way of watching my weight, which is pretty tricky when I think about, shop for, blog about and make food all the time! It also means I can experiment with lots of different flavour combinations – so every week is different.
I usually make dairy free soups, as my boyfriend can’t eat cheese, and I also figured – what’s the point of trying to eat a healthy lunch and then doloping in a load of cream? Although, I do love a good, properly creamy leek and potato soup when the time is right 🙂 I flit between making veggie and non veggie soups, as it depends whether I’ve got fresh chicken stock or not – which I did, for this one. But all of my soups can be made with vegetable stock replacing the fresh chicken stock.
I make most of my soups at the weekend and I fill up my huge le creuset dish so that I have some for lunches. I live just a few minutes walk away from work so I can come home, put some soup on the hob and relax for half an hour – I LOVE doing this – it’s such a treat to be able to do that in the middle of the working day. Sometimes I can’t do this though – so I just bubble it up in the morning and take it to work in a flask – which also works when we go on a walk at the weekends – nothing better than sipping soup in the car after a chilly stroll.
I usually make 2 litres, so that feeds us for a few days. Some soups seem to disappear quicker than others, mind – and this is one of them! I read somewhere that putting the salt in a lentil soup at the beginning toughens up the outside of the lentils – I’ve never actually done a test of this – but to be safe – I add it at the end. I made this one with real chicken stock, but if you’re using stock cubes you might not need extra salt – it’ll depend on the brand. Another thing I do which makes this (and lots of other food come to think of it) taste really nice – is to save the chicken fat from a roast chicken for frying. To do this, when you make stock from the chicken carcass, use the skins too – get everything in there. Boil up the stock for a few hours as usual, and then pop in the fridge overnight. By the morning, the fat will have risen to the top, and you can skim it off and keep it in the fridge for a couple of days. It makes average things – like fried onions – taste amazing. And it’s thrifty too – using every last bit of the bird.
Healthy and Hearty Tomato and Lentil Soup
splash of chicken fat or olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
350g red lentils
3 teaspoons paprika
pinch hot chilli powder
2 tins tomatoes (chopped or whole)
1.5 litres chicken stock (preferably fresh)
salt and pepper
1. Soften the onions, carrots and garlic in the chicken fat or olive oil for 10 minutes
2. Add the lentils, paprika, chilli and tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes
3. Add the chicken stock and simmer for 10 more minutes
4. Blend, season to taste and serve.