Our house, although in a beautiful valley, is situated at over 700 metres above sea level and, even though we are well into April there is still a distinct chill in the air when the sun goes in and a Northerly wind blows.
On days like today there is nothing better than a heart warming soup with a slight kick just to liven things up and fresh home made bread, oozing with butter!
This recipe is simplicity itself and tastes delicious (in my humble, slightly biased opinion!)
what more can you ask of a Monday morning but a walk through the citrus trees with their heady scent of orange blossom, meander through fields of orchids, then home for a bowl of pure bliss…………………..
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 onion – chopped into small pieces
1 level teaspoon of thyme
A pinch of chilli flakes – depending on how spicy you want your soup
3 cloves of garlic – finely chopped
1 small butternut squash (around 600g) peeled, deseeded and cut into bite size pieces
125g Puy lentils – make sure to rinse them before using
3 large tomatoes (or a handful of cherry tomatoes as I used) – chopped
1.25 litres of vegetable stock
115g baby spinach leaves, if you don’t have fresh, frozen will be fine)
Salt and pepper to taste and depending on the type of stock you use
Créme fraiche (or natural Greek yoghurt) and finely chopped fresh red chilli to serve
Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan on a low heat and add the chopped onion, thyme and chilli flakes. Gently cook, stirring every now and then until the onions are softened (about 10 minutes)
Add the garlic and squash and continue to cook for 2 or 3 minutes (don’t let the garlic burn as this will result in a bitter taste
Add the lentils, tomato and stock, bring to the boil. Lower the heat and gently simmer for around 20 – 30 minutes until the lentils and squash are cooked, but still have a slight bite to them.
If you like slightly thicker soup, then carefully mash some of the squash, until you are happy with the consistency.
Add the spinach and allow the leaves to wilt, or if you are using frozen spinach, then allow the soup to return to the correct temperature.
Season to taste, then pour into bowls, add the garnish of your choice and maybe drizzle a drop of olive oil.