In need of something warm, spicy and comforting as the nights draw in? Let me introduce the spicy tomato and lentil soup.
Just as in July and August we were in un dated with courgettes that morphed into marrows because we couldn’t pick ‘em fast enough, now the green house is giving up its goodies. Tomatoes, tomatoes and more tomatoes – they keep on coming.
Nice as they are to eat in salads, I needed a recipe that would use up a lot of them so I hit on tomato and lentil soup. Yes, there are lentils in it and they do contain carbs, but they thicken the soup up marvellously and make it so delicious, they are worth it.
If you like your soup to be more of a main course than a starter, do as I always do and serve it topped with a poached egg or two. Some cooked chorizo would work too.
1tsp dried chilli flakes (more or less, depending on how spicy you like it)
600ml boiling water
Heat the oil in a large saucepan/stock pan. Add the onion and pepper and cook for five minutes, until softened but not browned.
Add the tomatoes, garlic, cumin and chilli and cook for another five minutes until the tomatoes start to break down. Add the lentils and boiling water and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cover. Leave to cook for 15-20 minutes.
Use a hand blender to puree the soup. Add salt to taste – you should be generous with the salt, as lentils can take quite a bit of it.
Purple foods are good for us. According to the US Department of Agriculture, purple foods have nutrients called anthocyanins. These are antioxidants that protect against cell damage from free radicals.
I’m a big fan of the mighty aubergine. Curry it, roast it, grill it or turn it into ratatouille, this is a vegetable with a lot of uses.
I make my own version of Aubergine Parmigiana, that famous Italian dish. Buy the best quality mozzarella you can find, and top the dish lavishly with grated Parmesan cheese. Serve this as a side dish with roasted chicken. Or just cut yourself a ginormous portion and eat with salad.
Turn your oven to 175 degrees C. Slice the aubergine into half-centimetre thick slices. Drizzle with one tablespoon of the oil and cook in the oven for about twenty minutes. You want the slices softened and lightly browned. Leave the oven on once the slices have cooked as you will be using it again.
While the aubergine is cooking, heat the other tablespoon of oil in a saucepan and cook the sliced onion for five minutes until softened but not browned. Add the tomatoes, garlic and dried oregano. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and leave for fifteen minutes. You want a thick, concentrated sauce.
When the sauce and the aubergine are cooked, rip the mozzarella ball into pieces. Layer up slices of aubergine, tomato sauce and mozzarella in a casserole dish. Grind on some salt and top with the grated Parmesan and a generous helping of pepper. Cook in the oven to heat through and brown the top – about ten to fifteen minutes.
Top with the chopped basil.
6g net carbs per serving.
*The cheese so good, Pepys buried a round of it in his garden during the Great Fire of London.
Ever since abandoning vegetarianism (it was fun while it lasted, but not the best option for my health), I have been obsessed with home-made stock…
When I first added it to recipes, I couldn’t believe how much flavour it adds to a dish. And it’s so good for you because you get the vitamins and minerals from the bones and vegetables if you have cooked your stock for long enough.
Home-made stock is what makes home-made soup really special – and the reason why you can never buy a factory-made soup that tastes anywhere near as good. Nope, even those expensive cartons can’t measure up to good, home-made soup.
A new recipe I tried recently was a spin on another dish I make for myself frequently – spicy prawn curry. If I add this, instead of this and I up the quantity of this, I’ll get… You know the kind of thing keen cooks like to do. The result is this lovely soup, which is perfect for this time of year.
The obvious point to make is that I have used chicken and not fish stock for this recipe. I think of chicken stock as a universal stock – you can use it for any dish and you are more likely to have the basis of chicken rather than fish stock. Allow roughly 5g of carbs per serving.
Melt the coconut oil in large saucepan and add the celery. Cook gently for five minutes until softened.
Add the tinned tomatoes, stock, dried chillies, turmeric, ginger and chopped creamed coconut and bring the mixture to the boil. Turn down the heat and leave to simmer for 10-15 minutes. The mixture should reduce somewhat and you’ll be left with a spicy, fragrant and thickened liquid.
Chop the fish fillets into big, even-sized chunks (about 2ins chunks) and add to the soup. Leave the heat on for a minute or so and then turn off the heat and cover the saucepan for a lid. Leave for five minutes – this should be enough to cook the fish through.