Kale, Lentil and Bacon soup


Kale and Lentil soup

Don’t call me a swot but I just love vegetables.  More so than fruit I think and this time of year brings an amazing vibrant selection.  Beautiful and delicious, pretty as a picture and so good to eat.  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.   Ahh, Cauliflower Cheese, shockingly overcooked and watery at school but a thing of pure delight when done well.  Whether you go for a proper béchamel 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.  Another favourite is the Kale, Mushrooms and Chilli on Sourdough Toast, pictured above  (January 2013) which is not only delicious but feels so full of goodness.  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.  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…..  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.  So good.  As ever, I feel a splash of dry sherry enhances a veg based soup but it is up to you.  A really cracking result depends on a good stock,  I don’t always make my own (I know, I know) but ensure I buy a top quality one.  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.  Add the lentils, give it a good stir then add the sherry.  Let it sizzle briefly, pour in the stock and cook until the lentils are just about done.  Stir in the kale and thyme and cook for a minute or two until the kale is wilted.  Serve with some good crusty bread.  Enough for 3-4 depending if there is anything else for lunch.

Time for soup

Soup, soup, soup.  Funny how it never crops up much on our summer menu.  The odd gazpacho if it is really hot outside (rarely) or a chilled courgette soup if the glut is overwhelming (it wasn’t this year).  Generally though it is when the days cool that I want soup.  I love soup – not only is it warming and cosy, but as it is often vegetable based it reassures you that it is doing you good whilst giving you that warm hug.  Not to mention what a star it is when coming to use up vegetables you have too many of or those past their best and did I mention how cheap it is…

We eat a lot of soup for weekday lunches, partly as a fabulous quick warm healthy solution but also because for some maddening reason I can’t always sell the idea to my children.  Tomato soup fine, creamy onion soup fine but anything green or pulsey they just won’t love.  I keep on trying though.  Whenever we have a tapas, picnic sort of weekend lunch in the cooler months, I tend to rustle up some kind of soup.  Serve it to the children in little bowls with something yummy and crunchy to sprinkle on the top.  This way not only is the amount not too daunting but there are other things for lunch if it is really poorly received.  It seems to work this way but would be a different story I think if they were presented with a big bowl of soup and nothing else….

Red Lentil and Tomato Soup

1 onion chopped

1 tablespoon oil

2 cloves garlic chopped

Small thumb of ginger peeled and grated

Large pinch of chilli flakes

Large pinch sea salt

70g red lentils

1 can chopped tomatoes

500ml vegetable or chicken stock

50g creamed coconut

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/3 bunch coriander chopped (optional) I add for us, not for my children.

Soften the onion in the oil for a few minutes over a gentle heat, add the garlic, ginger, chilli and salt.  Stir, add the lentils, stir again and add the coconut, tomatoes, stock and sugar.  Simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are soft and have broken down.  Add the coriander if using and blend with a stick blender or in a liquidiser.  If you like you can serve the soup with a blob of yoghourt.

This is just fabulous to warm you up on a chilly blustery day.  Delicious, wholesome, cheap and made pretty much from store cupboard ingredients.  Extremely easy to make and you just know it is doing you good.  Increase the chilli if you like it spicy or omit if serving to very small children.