Emergency Soup.

This is my basic, staple, store cupboard soup.  It’s very rare that I don’t have these ingredients in the house somewhere – or at least some appropriate substitutes.

This soup mainly comes out in the autumn and stays with us throughout the winter, partly because it’s warming and slightly spicy, and partly because it makes good use of pumpkin and squash – which can sometimes be difficult to contend with during and autumn glut – but it works equally well with simply carrots, or the addition of summer marrow.

This can be made in the slow cooker, but as I usually turn to this recipe in an emergency it can be whipped up on the hob in about half an hour… to easily feed a group of hungry visitors or to become a tasty nutritious lunch for the family.  The quantities are a little vague because the ratio of veg, to lentils, to stock depends upon how many mouths there are to feed and how thick you prefer your soup.

My five year old calls this orange soup, and it is always well received with warm seedy spelt bread.

My winter spice of choice, you only need a little to add a deeply savoury smoky flavour to soups, stews and bakes. With or without heat.
My winter spice of choice, you only need a little to add a deeply savoury smoky flavour to soups, stews and bakes. With or without heat.

Just a word about lentils,  They are magical and wonderful and should be added to as many meals as possible.   They are insanely cheap, even when buying organic, and coming from the legume family boast a high protein content, good levels of dietary fibre, b vitamins and iron, which makes them invaluable in a balanced vegetarian diet.    They are easy to sneak into virtually any soup, stew or bake, like this one.  They also make amazing salads both cooked or sprouted… but I’ll wax lyrical about that during the warmer months. Nutrition aside, lentils offer a lot to these dishes, they soak up flavour and can therefore be very versatile.  They also, by absorbing liquid, can be used to thicken sauces, (blending will to make them smooth and silky if preferred) and they can even be processed to create thick pates and roasts or loaves.  We eat lentils in some form or another virtually every day.

Serves 6-10

1 medium onion (15p)

3 cloves of garlic (15p)

2 medium carrots (20p)

A combination of additional squash / marrow / pumpkin / sweet potato / or more carrot. (20-50p)

a good handful of red split lentils (20p)

1 tin of tomatoes (89p)

1 tsp of yeast extract (10p)

2 litres of stock (kallo cubes – 48p)

1 tsp sweet smoked paprika (substitute with hot smoke paprika or add a dash extra for a kick) (10p)

1 tbsp of tomato puree (optional) (5p)

salt and black pepper to taste.

Simply chop the onion, leeks and garlic roughly and fry in the oil for around 5 minutes to soften, add the rest of the chunkily chopped veg, the lentils and stir into the oil, frying for another couple of minutes.  Add the stock and the rest of the seasoning ingredients, bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 25 minutes until all the veg is tender.  Use a hand blender to whizz everything up to a smooth consistency, and adjust the seasoning or thickness with more water or maybe even a handful of ground almonds.

I’ve recently whipped up mammoth pots of this for big social gatherings to keep peoples’ tummies warm and full.  It can easily be adapted to feed up to 30 from a large cast iron pan with very little effort; some more lentils and stock, a good extra dose of seasoning and a couple of extra carrots.   Served in cups with an oatly wholemeal roll, it’s an economical, warming, filling and tasty crowd pleaser.

This recipe comes in at approximately 35p per serving.

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