Spicy Tomato & Lentil Soup


IMG_2445I love a good tomato soup, and at this time of the year when the tomato plants are abound with fruit I always try something a bit different.  One reason is, I suppose, that I just haven’t managed to come up with a recipe which really does my wonderful fresh tomatoes justice.  Over the years I’ve had several attempts and regularly look back and think, “well, that was really nice, but I probably would;t try it again…”  This year, however, I’ve finally cracked it!  The best tomato soup I’ve ever created!

The amount of tomatoes is a bit arbitrary – I threw in plant of fresh, well ripened fruit which needed using up.  Probably 1kg or thereabouts. If you don’t have fresh tomatoes you could always use a couple of tins and maybe cut down on the water

The chillies were selected with care – I’ve used my favourite – a very fruity but relatively mild cayenne type, “Peperone Fuego”, used a lot in Italian cooking and nice raw in salads, it has a good level of heat but isn’t overpowering.  If I were to use a ‘normal’ cayenne type pepper, I’d stick to just one, or maybe 2 with the seeds removed

The cream works really well, and could be incorporated directly into the soup if you prefer.  The richness balances out the tomato and spice and blending together would give a great creamy tomato alternative

A good alternative would be to peel the tomatoes first and chop small,  that would provide an option not to bend the soup at all and provide something with a little more of a rustic texture, making more of a feature of the lentils…

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Medium Onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 large Carrot, grated
  • 1kg+ of Fresh Tomatoes, very ripe, roughly chopped
  • 2 Red Chilli Peppers, including seeds, chopped
  • 2 springs fresh Rosemary
  • 175g Red Lentils
  • 1 ltr Boiling Water
  • 4 tsp Vegetable Stock Powder
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Red Wine Vinegar (or similar)
  • a little Double Cream to serve

Method

  • Gently sweat the onion and garlic in the oil until softened and starting to caramelise.  Add the carrot, chilli  and rosemary and sweat, covered for  about 5 minutes
  • Add the tomatoes and gradually bring to the boil, stirring all of the time.  Cook for another 5 minutes before adding the boiling water and lentils
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the lentils are cooked.  Stir periodically to prevent the lentils from sticking
  • Stir in the stock powder, sugar and vinegar and then carefully blitz with a hand blender until smooth
  • At this stage you have the option of sieving to remove any tomato skin if you wish
  • Bring back to the boil and check the seasoning – adjust the sugar, stock powder & vinegar as necessary and add a little more water if necessary to give the soup a thick consistency
  • Serve with fresh crusty bread and a swirl of cream

 

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