lentil soup & roasted chestnuts

Every job no matter how exciting, has a dull repetitive aspect that can be unavoidable. Some stack dominoes for months on end in order to experience less than a minute of amazingness. Others lay a thousand bricks before they see a building come to life.

We (the recipients) are all very grateful they went through the motions when we see the end result and we thank them.

In cooking, it’s the hours of prep, and the most fundamental is chopping. It’s cool to wield a super sharp blade for a short while & pretend you’re a ninja, but after onion number 53 has been peeled & diced, your mind has switched off and your hands move on auto-pilot. This is where accidents happen & fingertips go missing….

Other tedious activities include peeling cherry tomatoes and  gutting slimy calamari.

Personally, I love chopping carrots really finely because they have that clean crisp cut that you can work with a lot of speed. Keep me away from the garlic cloves however.

Today’s task is cleaning those stubborn chestnuts, and in particular, peeling off the fuzzy second layer that is not pleasant to eat. I haven’t got a good tip to give you here other than a lot of patience goes a long way. It seems that there are some varieties out there where that fuzz just peels right off but, I can’t recognise them easily. Apart from that we have a straightforward lentil soup that will keep you warm,  full and healthy during cold winter days.

- mel

Ingredients:
- 2 onions diced finely
- 2 carrots diced finely
- 1 fennel bulb cut finely
- 2 garlic cloves crushed and cut finely
- 2 tomatoes diced finely
- 500 gr lentils (not the orange kind)
- 2 bay leafs
- few thyme springs
- 3 tbs cider vinegar
- 400 gr chestnuts
- 5 tbs olive oil
- salt pepper

Directions:
1. Score the chestnuts on both sides and place in a baking tray. Bake at 220C for about 40 minutes depending on size. Every 10 minutes shake the around a bit and when done allow to cool slightly before peeling. Be warned removing the fuzzy second layer is a pain and need patience but every now and then you get some that peel right off and its a pleasant surprise.
2.  Sautee all vegetables except the tomatoes in 5 tbs olive oil on high heat for about 5 minutes stirring often. Add the tomatoes and cook for 1 minute then add vinegar, thyme, bay leaf, water and lentils. The quantity of water depends a lot on the lentils so add around a litre and a half to start with and add more if needed.  Stir once and bring to a boil then reduce to a slow simmer. You want the end result to be firm lentils but with no crunch in them at all and the liquid to be nice and thick, and check for seasoning.
3. Crush half of the chestnuts in pieces and add to the soup at the end of the cooking process and keep the rest to place on top before serving.
4. Adding fresh olive oil and vinegar before serving work very nice in this winter comfort soup.

 ……..for a full history of our recipes, check out our archives. For the more sensitive tummies, check out our gluten-free archives….. and if you’re just interested in something pretty, check out our designed page.

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