I once read that it takes twenty attempts to get a child to accept a new food. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will be well aware that when it comes to serving soup to The Princess, I am probably way past those twenty attempts. She truly dislikes smooth soups, will tolerate soup with bits, and I have even resorted to offering ‘bribes’ on the side to get her to eat her dinner. So when she not only finished a bowl of this Red Lentil and Bacon Soup, but followed that with the admission that “it wasn’t too bad” I was pretty darn happy.
Red lentils do not require soaking and cook quite quickly, making this soup a great weeknight standby. Dinner can be on the table within the hour. I have also made this soup in advance, and reheated it just prior to serving. Be aware, though, that it will thicken on standing, and you may need to add a splash of water or chicken stock to loosen it. The lentils can be rinsed prior to cooking, if you remember. I always forget this step, and yet the soup still tastes great.
Mr Grumpy is slightly fixated on smoking his own food at the moment, which I think is just a cover so he can play with fire. Every time he sets the smoker up he fills the house with smoke, which does not endear him to me at all. However he is, on occasion, producing some nicely smoked food so he can be forgiven I suppose. I used a small piece of his smoked bacon for this recipe, which added some great flavour to the soup. I’m not suggesting you should smoke your own bacon in order to get dinner on the table, although if you happen to find some smoked bacon I would definitely snap it up to use in this recipe.
This soup can also be turned into a hearty vegetarian supper. Omit the bacon from the recipe, and saute a teaspoon (or more) of smoked paprika with the vegetables. The smoked paprika will add a nice smoky flavour to the dish, and if you use hot smoked paprika it will add a slight chilli kick at the same time.
Lentils can be a polarising dish in some families. I like to cook this soup until the lentils start to collapse into the stock. Served with loads of crusty bread and butter, the moans can be kept to a bare minimum at our house. My favourite kind of dinner.
This soup will thicken on standing, and may need a splash of water or stock to thin it out prior to serving.
- Melt the ghee in a large saucepan or soup pot.
- Saute the onion until golden brown.
- Add the bacon and cook until browned. I usually scrape the onion to one side, as I find the bacon browns better this way. You can also remove the onion from the pot whilst browning the bacon if you prefer.
- Add the carrot and celery to the onion mixture and saute for 3 - 5 minutes, or until softened.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, red lentils, bay leaf and thyme sprig
- Cover with the chicken stock.
- Bring the soup to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Cook for 30 minutes, or until the lentils have softened and are starting to collapse.
- Check the seasoning, and add salt & pepper if required. Some bacon is quite salty and you may not need to add additional salt.
- Serve with loads of crusty bread.
P.S. You might also like to try these Savoury Feta & Olive Muffins. They are great with soup.