Don’t call me a swot but I just love vegetables. Â More so than fruit I think and this time of year brings an amazing vibrant selection. Â Beautiful and delicious, pretty as a picture and so good to eat. Â My vegetable garden is coming to the end of its growing season and just has a few courgettes and late runner beans on offer, but no matter, my wonderful farm shop down the road (Washingpool Farm Shop, near Bridport) is full of earthy seasonal treasures.
So far this week we’ve had Celeriac and Spinach soup, Beetroot and Parsley soup with a little horseradish cream and Cauliflower Cheese. Â Ahh, Cauliflower Cheese, shockingly overcooked and watery at school but a thing of pure delight when done well. Â Whether you go for a proper bÃ©chamel with cheese or the quick creme fraiche with grated cheese route, I love this supper.
Looking back at what we were eating last time it was chilly I found the Late Autumn Salad (November 2012) with earthy roast beetroot and salty crumbly feta. Â Another favourite is the Kale, Mushrooms and Chilli on Sourdough Toast, pictured above Â (January 2013) which is not only delicious but feels so full of goodness. Â To go with a cup of tea you can’t beat Patrick’s Plum Cake (October 2012) squidgy and delicious with almonds and plums.
What I am looking forward to now is Plum Crumble, hot juicy tangy plums with a sweet crunchy blanket of crumble on top, the purple juices seeping up making it sticky and chewy. Â Or celeriac remoulade, at once both crunchy and creamy with some lovely air dried Dorset ham – what could be better on a crisp sunny day with perhaps a glass of cold cider on the side….. Â Or maybe this Kale, Lentil and Bacon soup.
A super cosy, warming yet fresh and healthy soup if ever there was one. Earthy lentils, verdant good for you kale and a little salty hit of bacon. Â So good. Â As ever, I feel a splash of dry sherry enhances a veg based soup but it is up to you. Â A really cracking result depends on a good stock, Â I don’t always make my own (I know, I know) but ensure I buy a top quality one. Â I used chicken stock here but you could use a vegetarian one, omit the bacon and make this vegan should you so wish.
Kale, Lentil and Bacon Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
100g puy lentils
1 litre stock, chicken or vegetable (see introduction)
A splash of dry sherry
A few sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
100g kale, chopped
Cook the bacon and onion in the oil until soft. Â Add the lentils, give it a good stir then add the sherry. Â Let it sizzle briefly, pour in the stock and cook until the lentils are just about done. Â Stir in the kale and thyme and cook for a minute or two until the kale is wilted. Â Serve with some good crusty bread. Â Enough for 3-4 depending if there is anything else for lunch.