Here’s a lovely veggie soup that’s great for this time of year here in UK – the smoky-sweet aroma, flavours and rich colours are a real pick-me-up when it’s cold, wet and grey outside. It’s a simple soup to make too, and very nourishing, with lots of different kinds of veggies and garlic, and delicious Puy lentils, which are a source of folate, iron, phosphorus and potassium, as well as being a great source of protein. If you’re short of time, or don’t like the mess, you can use roast red peppers from a jar rather than roasting them yourself. I like to serve the soup with swirl of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese and some chopped parsley, but there are other options, such as some crispy lardons (if you aren’t veggie!) or a swirl of crème fraîche.
Smoky Roast Red Pepper & Puy Lentil Soup
- 2 red peppers
- 3/4 cup of puy lentils
- 2 fresh bay leaves (optional)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 celery stick (you can leave this out if you don’t want to buy a big bag of celery just for one stick!)
- 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 400ml stock (veggie or chicken are good choices)
- 1/2 tsp hot smoked pimenton
- about 1/2 a 680g bottle of passata (you can add more or less, depending on how thick you would like your soup to be)
- salt and pepper
- Read the recipe through before you start, so that you can plan what to do when!
- Preheat oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6. Cut the tops off the red peppers and scrape out the seeds and any white bits. Cover the base of a baking tray with foil, put the peppers on the tray and then pop into the oven for 40-45 minutes. Once the skin of the peppers is blackened, remove from the oven and cover them with a clean tea-towel or pop them in a plastic bag. When they are cool enough to handle, you will be able to peel off the skins and slice thinly.
- Whilst the peppers are in the oven, you can get on with the other prep. Rinse the lentils thoroughly, then put them in a pan and cover with cold water, so that the water is 2-3 inches above the surface of the lentils. Add the fresh bay leaves and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and leave to simmer, uncovered for 20-25 minutes, until they are soft but have a little bit of bite.
- Meanwhile chop the carrot, onion and celery stick finely and sautée in a large saucepan for about 10 minutes until very soft – add the finely chopped cloves of garlic about 5 minutes into this time.
- If your peppers are ready by now, chop them and add them to the vegetables (if not, just turn the veg off for a bit and come back to the soup when the peppers are done).
- Now add the chopped tomatoes, stock, pimenton and the cooked lentils (don’t bother to drain them but remove the bay leaves) and some of the passata (according to your taste in soup thickness!) and seasoning to the veg. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for at least 20 minutes, partially covered. If you can simmer for longer, do, because the flavours amalgamate better.
For more recipes do visit my directory of Very Berry recipes.