Everything outside was beautifully befrosted this Christmas morning. Inside, however, Santa clearly wasn’t sure whether I had been good or not this year.
Having just about regained my appetite in time for the biggest meal of the year, a power cut early on Christmas day looked like it might put the kibosh on all attempts to cook it. Thankfully, the electricity
repair man angel stepped in and saw to it that everyone in the locality had the power to fuel their feasting (not to mention their colouredy Christmas lights).
So, following an interlude where we contemplated sandwiches for dinner, the lights returned and it was suddenly hell for leather in the kitchen – the Ma on meats and pudding and myself on stuffing, bread sauce, brussels sprouts, roasted carrots, parsnips and onions and, of course, my signature roasties. Heaving platefuls finally served and consumed by the troops with cranberry sauce, redcurrant jelly and general gusto, followed by trifle and pudding, for which there is never any room but which everyone eats anyway. And afterward, the inevitable retirement to the couch to snooze in front of the telly and digest. Unmistakeably Christmas.
Feeling Better Already Potato and Lentil Soup
On the road to recovering from pre-Christmas dodgy stomach syndrome, I got to the stage where soup was the only thing that would do. This is what I made for myself on Christmas Eve and knew I was on the mend when I went back for seconds. Eating Christmas dinner the next day suddenly seemed possible.
It’s a simple soup and an easy one to remember – just equal weights of potatoes, red lentils, onion and carrot, plus some garlic, spices, seasonings and water or stock. It’s good for what ails you.
- olive oil for frying
- 150g onion (about 1 medium-sized specimen), finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 150g carrot (1 large), finely sliced
- 150g potato (1 small-ish spud), peeled and diced
- 150g red lentils, rinsed in several changes of water
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 0.5 tsp turmeric
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 800ml water or light vegetable stock
- 1 tsp salt or to taste (less if using stock that’s already salted)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- squeeze of lemon juice (around 1 tsp or to taste)
You’ll also need:
- A blender or food processor for blending the soup – an immersion blender is the handiest.
- Place a medium-sized saucepan over a medium heat and, when hot, add oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
- Add the onions and garlic to the pan. Stir and fry for about 3 minutes, until just starting to soften, then add the carrot and stir and fry for another 4-5 minutes.
- Add the potatoes, lentils, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, salt and stock or water. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for around 30 minutes, until the vegetables have softened.
- Remove from the heat and blend until smooth. It will be fairly thick, so add some hot water if you’d prefer a thinner soup and reheat gently.
- Taste and add more salt if needed, plus a couple of twists of black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.
- Grab a ladle, serve yourself a bowl, along with a dollop of natural yoghurt or sour cream if you feel so inclined, and let the soup do its magic.
- If I’d had them to hand, I would have toasted about a teaspoon of cumin seeds and added them to the soup right at the very end of proceedings.
- Serves 3-4