Potage and Pulses for October:
Spiced Red Lentil Soup with Frazzled Onions Recipe
We are now almost in the midst of October……..so, well into autumn now, and winter and the sparkling festive season are just a few weeks away. The nights have drawn in and the clocks will be going back an hour next week, but at least it will make the mornings lighter; although, as the days shorten, I notice that they are getting darker earlier anyway. It can be a season of dark, grey days where lights are needed in the home even in the middle of the day, but, it is also a time of year that I love – it’s like a big cuddly jumper, or a woolly blanket, it’s a time when it is OKAY, and indeed a necessity to eat hearty food, where stews, casseroles, soups and potage keep us warm, and nourish not just our tummies, but our souls. It’s a time of year to bring out those stew pots and use them almost daily; it’s also that time of year to bake bread – to fill the house with fresh bread fragrance, but I will talk about bread another time.
My veggie garden is almost barren now, although there are some late tomatoes lingering on – more about them another day. I have some leeks coming on and a few parsnips and sprouts for the big day, but, it’s my herbs that have been keeping my stew pot going. I can of course buy lovely seasonal vegetables locally from farm shops and markets, and a kindly friend dropped off some carrots and beetroot last week, which was very welcome. But, my herbs are still prolific, and even my outdoor basil has a few straggly leaves clinging on, just right for a tomato salad or plate of pasta. The winter herbs are looking wonderful, soft downy leaves of sage nod against the terracotta pots, whilst spiky rosemary leaves reach for the sky as the bush grows into a small tree……..my lovage is still bright green and it’s yeasty celery-like fragrance clings to my fingers long after I have snapped off a few leaves.
Soup or potage? What’s the difference other than in a name – is it a word that is lost in translation, not really, as we used to use the word potage in English for centuries; it could be a bowl of soup or gruel, or a “mess” of oats (porridge) or even barley mixed with vegetable stock and just a whiff of precious meat. The original old French word means a pot of stew, a “potted meal”, and the word “potager” is of course the garden that fills the potage, (the pot) it’s an elemental word that still carries resonance in France, a warm and nourishing word, and many an eye is glazed over when one talks about their maman’s potage. Although there are many types of potage, such as milky based frumenty and enriched jellies, sometimes made with fruit and flowers, it’s the soup and stew type of potage I am discussing this time.
A soup for me has to contain some the following essential elements: pulses of some sort such as lentils or split peas, pearl barley, beans (sometimes, such as butter beans), carrots, onions, herbs and garlic…….potatoes, leeks, celery, swede, turnip, beetroot, cabbage or parsnips are optional extras depending on what type of soup I am making. It’s obvious that root vegetables are the mainstay of the winter stew pot, as they can simmer away for a long time and retain their shape. You may notice that I have not included meat or fish in my list of essential stew ingredients; it’s not that I don’t like a chicken soup or a mutton broth, it’s just that if you have any of the ingredients above, from your potager, you have the makings of a delicious soup or stew, especially when dumplings are added or some slices of “door-step” bread.
When I thought about what recipe I would share with you, I was in a bit of a flap; how can one choose JUST one soup to share, it’s impossible, so I have decided to share a few links to soups on my blog here, as well as my featured recipe for Spiced Red Lentil Soup with Frazzled Onions. So, can I tempt you with any of the following soups from the Lavender and Lovage Soup Kitchen…….Meat-Free Scotch Broth, Allotment Soup, Spiced Carrot Soup with Cheese and Houmous Toasties, Marmite Ecossaise ~ Luxury Scottish Seafood Stew, Cullen Skink my way or maybe a bowl of Curried Scottish Carrot and Lentil Soup. Served up in big rustic bowls with a hunk of Farmhouse Oatmeal Breadand lots of love, as I always think that a bowl of soup is like a big bowl of love…….and I often ask my mum to make a bowl of her “magic lentil soup” when I am feeling under the weather, it’s an almost instant remedy for most ailments and the winter blues – just like the Jewish community and their famous chicken soup, often called a culinary antibiotic, and made for those they love when they are ill.
Whether it be Borscht or Harissa, Scotch Broth or Vichyssoise, soup is easy to make, can be kept warm for hours and certainly feeds the soul…..I hope you will enjoy the recipe I decided to share today, a bowl of comfort and joy, a brightly coloured soup that brings a smile to the faces of all who eat it, even before one spoon has been dipped in, Spiced Red Lentil Soup with Frazzled Onions; made with red lentils, onions, carrots, vegetable stock, assorted aromatic spices and of course a big spoon of love! Have a WONDERFUL soup filled Sunday, see you soon, Karen
Spiced Lentil & Carrot Soup with Frazzled Onions
A fragrantly spiced soup with two of your Five-a-Day in one bowl, this makes a tasty lunch or supper dish when served with Naan breads or Pitta breads.
- 2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
- 600g carrots (peeled, and cut into small dice or rounds)
- 200g red lentils
- 1 litre of vegetable stock (I used Swiss Marigold Bouillon)
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
- 2 onions (peeled and sliced into rings)
- 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
- crème fraîche (to serve)
- salt and black pepper
A fragrantly spiced soup with two of your Five-a-Day in one bowl, this makes a tasty lunch or supper dish when served with Naan breads or Pitta breads. If you prefer a thinner soup, then add more stock to the soup after blending.
|Step 1||Heat the rapeseed oil in a large sauce pan and then add the carrots, place the lid on the pan and allow the carrots to sweat for 5 minutes, before adding the red lentils – mix them around to coat them with the oil, replace the lid and allow to cook for 2 to 3 minutes.|
|Step 2||Add the cumin and curry powder to the carrots and lentils and cook over a medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring all the time, before adding the stock. Replace the lid on the pan and simmer for 20 minutes or until the carrots are soft and the lentils are cooked. Allow to cool and then using a stick blender, blend the soup until smooth. Check seasoning and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Put the soup to one side whilst cooking the onion garnish.|
|Step 3||For the frazzled onions – pour the rapeseed oil into a frying pan over a high heat. Add the onion rings and fry over a high heat whilst constantly moving the onion rings around, if they brown too much, turn the heat down slightly. Continue to cook the onions until they are soft and yet crispy with charred edges.|
|Step 4||Re-heat the soup over a low heat without bringing it to the boil, check seasoning again and then ladle into warm soup bowls and garnish with the fried onions and some crème fraîche. Swerve with Naan bread or Indian flat breads.|
As I used locally grown ingredients in this soup, I am entering it into Elizabeth’s lovely new blog challenge called Shop Local, as all of these ingredients were grown in my and my neighbour’s gardens – you cannot “shop” more locally than that!
For those SOUP LOVERS amongst you, here is a fascinating list of SOUPS and their names and ingredients:
(Some content and images previously shared on Garlic and Sapphire)