Soup, it’s as easy as pie

Hi there folks, now that term has started again I am back into my proper routines. Heck, I’ve even been cooking today. I feel like I have been out of the kitchen for a few weeks because I tend to leave the Christmas stuff to the Husband. Don’t feel too sorry for him, he was a chef in a previous lifetime and actually misses getting his hands dirty. May I say, he did sterling work over Christmas, much better than I could.

Today, I decided that some soup was in order. There were several reasons for this.

Reason 1: I have ‘over veged’ in my shopping. I was a bit out of the loop with what food we had in the house, what with Husband doing the cooking and having been away for a few days. I didn’t realise how much of my Mum’s bargain (think 4p a bag), pre-Christmas veg was still around and in good condition.

Reason 2: After the feasting of Christmas, my system is crying out for some nice, simple, veg based food.

Reason 3: After the spending of Christmas, my bank account is crying our for some nice, cheap, veg based food.

Reason 4: Babykins has been living off jars of pre-made baby food lately. I’m not keen on that stuff and it is an expensive way to feed a child. However, he does seem to have quite a penchant for soft, mushy stuff at the moment and wolfed down the veg soup that Husband knocked up on Boxing day.

If, like me, you are feeling the pinch, either in the waistline or in the purse, soup is a godsend.

Here is my recipe for Carrot, Lentil and Cumin Soup and/or Baby Food:

275 of carrots, peeled and chopped

1 onion, sliced

2 sticks of celery, chopped

100g of dried, red lentils

2 tsp of ground cumin

1 vegetable stock cube or equivalent

small slosh of vegetable oil

Serves 2 or 3 adults

See, I told you the veg was 4p

Sturdy, sharp knives. No kitchen should be without them

Any veg stock will do. I just happen to like this one

Er, it doesn’t say anything about carrots

I had to slip a macro picture in somewhere

By the way, did you know that lentils are a good source of protein and iron? When served with rice, all essential amino acids are present. The iron in lentils is slightly harder to absorb than the iron in red meat. Whatever the source, vitamin C is required for the body to absorb iron. The carrots in this soup will provide some (though they are better known as a source of vitamin A) but you could finish your lunch with an orange, just to hedge your bets.

Gently frying the onion and celery

As you can see from the pictures, the veg was chopped fairly roughly. Since I always planned to blitz this soup, the size of the chunks wasn’t critical. Of course the more uniform they are, the more easy it will be to cook them without burning. If you are prepared to keep stirring at the frying stage it shouldn’t be a major problem.

After the veg has been prepared, gently fry the onion and celery in the oil in a medium sized pan. When it has softened a bit, add the cumin and stir for a few more minutes. Add the carrots, lentils, stock cube and enough boiling water to cover everything and then a bit more. If you are in doubt go for less water, you can always add more later. The lentils will soak some up during cooking. If you intend to use your soup predominantly as baby food, I would suggest using less water as you will obviously end up with a thicker result. You could also add a little rice (really, just a little, no more than two tablespoons), or more lentils. More on that later. Here is what mine looked like:

Let everything simmer away for 20 to 30 minutes or until the carrot and lentils are cooked. If you’ve never cooked lentils before, they should be soft and broken up, with only a little bit of ‘bite’.

Finally, blitz your soup in whatever way you see fit. I tend to use a simple stick blender because it is easy to use and easy to clean. If you are at the stage in life where you are preparing a lot of baby food, it is a great tool to have in the kitchen.

At this stage you should really taste your soup and decide if you want it to have salt and pepper, a touch more stock or water or maybe, if you are feeling decadent, a bit of cream. I was happy with mine just as it was.

Now, for the baby food part. There are different schools of thought on this. If you are an advocate of baby-led weaning, you will need to make your soup quite thick as your baby will be feeding it to him or herself on a spoon (see here if you don’t believe this is possible). If you are happy to shovel it in yourself, you can make it as thick as you think necessary. I’m afraid at the moment we are having a ‘shovel  it in’ phase, despite my best intentions. I let my soup down a bit with some milk, to make it a little milder and then thickened it with baby rice. If you made your soup thick in the first place you may not need to do this. Baby rice is a bit of a cheat. It’s relatively expensive but it thickens things quickly and easily.

I’m sure in a proper, fancy recipe book they would finish this soup off with a sprinking of toasted cumin seeds, a drizzle of ‘good’ olive oil, a blob of creme fraiche and a herby garnish. I just ate mine as it was and enjoyed it very much.

I’m pleased to say Babykins did too.

I tried to get a shot with him opening his mouth. Have you ever tried to get ‘that’ picture with a phone camera and feed a baby at the same time? I’d like to see your results.  

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