I don’t think I’ve been as excited to share a dinner story (dinner story? By ‘dinner story’ I mean, ‘recipe’) since The Beef Overdose of 2012. I know we haven’t spoken in a while and I know we have a lot of catching up to do, but before we get to that, you need to go make some soup.
First, find a big pot. Here in the The Basement, pots are stored in a drawer. The lids quite often clatter down the back of the cabinet and sometimes the pot handles stick up at jaunty angles and jam all the drawers shut. If you are smart, you will either: a) organise more than one pot drawer so you don’t have to stack too many together, b) have proper kitchen cupboards to keep things in, c) be a fancy pants show off and install one of those nifty carousel things under your worktop or… or you will screw some contraption into the kitchen ceiling and have your pots hang within comfortable reaching distance on butcher hooks. Like they do in the magazines. And on Pinterest.
Screw the lid off the olive oil bottle, tilt it a bit and pour some into the base of the pot. I like to pour olive oil in ever decreasing circles. It doesn’t really matter how you pour it. It will taste the same regardless. Why not try writing your name? Warm the oil on the hob at a fairly low heat.
Dig a medium sized onion out from the fridge – or from wherever you store your vegetables. I keep my onions in the fridge. My shitty, teensy weensy, smelly little fridge.
Peel the onion and chop it up into bits. You should probably use a chopping board. And, well, a knife – I guess.
FUN FACT: Contact lens wearers don’t tear up when chopping onions.
Chuck the onion bits into the pot. Grab hold of the pot handle and shoogle the whole thing round a bit to make sure the oil is coating all the onion bits.
Turn the heat up a bit. Listen to those onions fry. Sniff in that delicious smell while you fill then boil the kettle. Remember a watched kettle never boils. Avert your eyes.
If you find you have smelly onion hands, go fondle the kitchen tap for a 20 seconds.
There’s a certain thrill that comes from using a garlic press, admittedly – perhaps some throw back to the summer of 1985 when happiness was daydreaming about owning Playdoh Barbershop – but usually I use either puree or the pre-chopped stuff you get in a jar. Don’t know about you, but I’m using the stuff in the jar. Put two generous teaspoonfuls of teeny cut-up garlic cubes (or a couple of cloves or a big squirt of puree) onto the onions. You could even tap some garlic powder in there if that’s all you find in the cupboard. Stir it up.
The kettle ought to have boiled by now. Pour the water into the pot and over the onions and garlic. Pour all the water in there. A full kettle’s worth. Be careful not to make a splash or you might burn your hands/arms/face.
Bring out the lentils! Shove your hand into the lentil bag. Pull out a fistful and throw it in the pot. Repeat four times over. Stir the lentils round to make sure they’re not sticking together in a big lump or melding themselves to the base of the pot.
Add two vegetable stock cubes to the watery, oniony, garlicky mixture. Stir ’em in til they’ve dissolved and you can see the green herby bits floating around in the water. Don’t ever use those creepy stock pot things. They will ruin your soup.
If you haven’t already turned the heat up full, do it now. Bring your oniony water to the boil. The ‘soup’ might look a bit boggin’ at the minute and not much like soup at all actually – but it should smell quite nice. Add some salt and pepper. I add a lot of pepper but barely any salt. Do as you wish.
Once the lentils have swollen out a bit and…ooo, three fingers worth of your water has boiled away/been sucked up by pulses, open a carton/jar of passata. Pour it into the pot. Stir.
Add as much chilli as you fancy – or none at all if you hate it (chopped and fresh, pre-chopped from a jar, powdered – whatever). Tonight I’m making a fairly spicy soup because a) it’s fleekin’ freezing outside and b) we have germs to kill. We could be doing with eating up a sweat.
Sprinkle in a pinch of sugar, add a generous squirt of tomato puree and a flippant splatter of lemon juice. Stir.
Boil, boil, boil the mixture until the lentils are nice and soft. No one likes a crunchy lentil. Allow the soup to do it’s hubbly bubbly thing for 20-30 minutes or so. Don’t venture too far away though, mind. Crunchy lentils are pretty annoying, but not nearly as awful as blackened stuck-to-the-bottom-of-the-pot ones. Stir regularly. Keep those blighters moving.
Allow the soup to simmer for another 20 minutes or so. Continue to whirr the spoon round the pot every now and again.
Once satisfied your lentils are cooked properly and the ingredients have all mooshed together, turn the heat off. You know, I don’t usually zap this particular soup. I rather enjoy its thickness and I like that it’s a super-substantial meal on its tod. However, Garry has recently (in the last week) developed an aversion to the shape of lentils. That’s right – an aversion to the shape of lentils – so tonight I’m zapping the soup with my handheld blender doodah. I do try to be a thoughtful wife.
So you might want to sit down for this bit.
Now if you like, you can ladle the soup into a wee bowl right now and slurp away til your heart (and your tummy)’s content. Or. Or you can join me in this, my new favourite pastime, ‘Throwing Stuff In Soup’.
Stuff I Threw In Soup Today
Ladle as much soup as you fancy into a bowl.
Peel and chop 1 ripe avocado.
Throw it in the soup.
Smash up a wee few tortilla chips with your hands/back of a spoon.
Throw them in the soup.
Chop a cooked spicy, cured sausage into little pieces.
Throw it in the soup.
Grate some cheese.
Throw it in the soup.
Maybe you’ve been throwing stuff in soup for years. Crikey, have you had all sorts floating around in there? Maybe, like me, you’ve never thrown in much more than a hunk of bread or a crusty crouton I will be continuing to experiment with the soup/stuff throwing If you come up with any delicious combos, I want to hear about them. Dish it.