In the last few days, Brighton has started get a right old nip in the air. Gone is that long lazy summer only to be replaced with a windy and wet Autumn, that’s been blowing cold air right up the back of my jumper. This calls for one thing and one thing only…soup. ‘Oh boring, not another bloody soup’ I hear you groan, but wait just a minute. This one is good one. It’s the kind of soup everyone should have in their recipe bank.
Whilst I’d like to claim the origins of this soup are from my great granny, who got it from her great granny, but it’s not. It’s sort of from the Leon Cookbook, but with
large lumps of butter removed just a few tweaks here and there. It’s the perfect soup for those days just between Winter and Summer…oh and it’s gluten and diary free. Bingo!
Pancetta & French Lentil Soup (serves 4)
130g cubed and smoked pancetta
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
200g french lentils
1 litre chicken stock
Heat a large solid pan and add the oil. Once hot cook the pancetta until crisp and brown. Add all the veg and cook gently for about 15 minutes, or until the onions start to pick up a bit of colour. Stir in the bay leaves, oregano and cook for another couple of minutes.
Now add the tomato puree, vinegar and mix well. Tip in the lentils and stir them around to pick up all the flavour. Pour in your chicken stock. Bring to boil, then simmer for 30 minutes until the lentils are very soft.
Take a couple of ladles of soup out of the pot and blitz in your blender. It will be a bit paste like. Mix back into the soup. Season to taste.