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Oven-baked lentil soup with greens

Oven-baked lentil soup with greens

SERVES 6-8

PREP TIME 10 minutes

COOK TIME 1 hour

My dear friend Linda Smith lives in Memphis, where she has the most wonderful farm filled with hummingbirds. This soup is one of hers. I often make a big batch then eat it for lunch throughout the week; the flavours deepen the longer it is left. I am always adding different things to it depending on my mood and the season – kale, swiss chard or even parsley (stems and all) are all great additions. I sometimes pop in a few skinless chicken thighs too. By the time the soup is cooked the meat will be soft enough to eat with a spoon and the bones will have added lots of flavour.

I often make a big batch then eat it for lunch throughout the week; the flavours deepen the longer it is left

2 litres chicken stock (or vegetable stock, if preferred)

225g dried yellow split peas

225g dried green or brown lentils

4 carrots (about 450g), scrubbed, trimmed and chopped into 2.5cm pieces

4 celery stalks, chopped into 2.5cm pieces

1 leek, trimmed and chopped into 2.5cm pieces

2 bay leaves

1 ½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

large bunch seasonal greens (about 250g), stripped from any large stems, then sliced

chopped herbs, to garnish

crusty bread and butter, to serve (optional)

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/gas 4.
  • Put the stock, dried peas, lentils, vegetables, bay leaves, cumin, salt and pepper into a large heavy casserole dish and stir to combine. Cover and bake in the oven for 1 hour, or until the peas and lentils are tender.
  • Remove from the oven and fish out and discard the bay leaves. Stir through the seasonal greens until wilted.
  • Just before serving, garnish with the chopped herbs, then ladle the soup into warmed soup plates and serve with bread and butter, if desired.

GROWING CARROTS

A lady who came to one of my vegetable talks first told me about growing carrots in pots. She did it to outwit the carrot fly which operates at ground level. It works brilliantly. Another great advantage with container growing is that you can tailor the environment to the crop. Carrots like gritty soil, so I add some sharp sand to the mix – about one part sand to ten parts compost. Tall, narrow long-tom pots (specially suited for deep-rooted plants) are ideal and placing them closer to the house will mean that your carrots are less exposed to the elements. You can also protect them more easily on cold nights with a bit of hessian to stop the soil freezing, and they will be easier to harvest.

 

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