Like many food bloggers, I’m a big fan of Heidi Swanson and her blog 101 Cookbooks. It’s not just the recipes (which are inspirational, to say the least), her photography is also quite stunning. I’ve followed her blog for a while now but I’d never gotten around to purchasing a copy of her book ‘Super Natural Cooking’. Heidi recently released her second cookbook, Super Natural Everyday and I decided it was high time I got a copy of each for my collection. So, even though we already have too many cookbooks, I ordered both and decided to work my way through from old to new.
When the book finally arrived (I had to order it from the US) I immediately started pouring over the recipes and thinking about what I had available and how we could work some new recipes into our week with minimal fuss. I try to make my weekly work lunches at home, not only to save money but also because there is not a huge selection of ‘good’ food around where I work so it’s become a bit of a habit. As we start to head towards the winter months here in Australia, soup becomes one of the staples; I had everything I needed at home to make this up and so the second I arrived home I set about re-creating the chunky lentil soup on page 141 of Super Natural Cooking.
The recipe is very simple, there are really only three main ingredients – lentils, tomato and pumpkin. While making the soup I felt like I should be adding more spices or flavours but decided to roll with the recipe to see what would come of it and I’m glad I did. I did make a few changes but they are largely in keeping with the original recipe, for example: Instead of cooking down the pumpkin pieces with the tomato and stock as suggested in the book, I baked the pumpkin whole and used spring onions in place of yellow. I also used sweet paprika (instead of smoked) and substituted passata and a few whole tomatoes in place of canned tomato. I also left out the basil, but only because we didn’t have any at the time. Overall, this soup is breathtakingly simple and I don’t know that I would add a single thing (except maybe the basil, when it’s in season). At the outset I’ve said it’s a vegan recipe, and on paper it is, however the serving notes in this recipe are to garnish with a good hit of pecorino cheese. This does really round out the tomato and pumpkin flavours of the dish but I am almost certain that any vegan friends out there reading this will know a good alternative, I was thinking maybe a grated brazil nut, some lemon zest or even some nice oily and salty olives, finely chopped. If you’ve got any great suggestions please feel free to share them at the bottom of the post for others to try as well.
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2-3 spring onions (or one yellow onion, if using)
- 1¼ cups of French lentils (try to get these as they hold their shape really well)
- 4 small tomatoes, roughly chopped
- ½ bottle organic passata
- 1 medium sized pumpkin
- 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika (or smoked, if you have it)
- 1 cup of good quality vegetable stock
- pinch of salt
- Pecorino cheese (or suitable vegan alternative) and a couple of shredded basil leaves-
- Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.
- Put pumpkin in an oven proof dish and bake whole until skin is golden and starting to caramelise (about an hour depending on the size). Once cooked allow to cool slightly and then remove the skin and cut into bite-sized chunks.
- In a large saucepan add 3 cups of water and the lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Heat oil in a large heavy based pan (like a Le Creuset) and lightly fry the onion and garlic.
- Add stock, tomatoes and passata and cook lightly for 5 minutes or so.
- Add the pumpkin and lentils and stir through well.
- Pop the lid on, turn the heat down to low and gently bring to a boil. Add another cup of water if it's starting to get too thick.
- Add paprika and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve with a thick layer of grated pecorino and eat with a large slice of thick chunky bread.
- So simple and delicious.