Things I have had enough of these days: being poked by other people’s umbrellas, constant weather-induced wardrobe uncertainty, being unable to go for a hike because of the rain, living under a black cloud of gloomy weather that feels decidedly British.
Turning that frown upside down: at least it’s not humid and I don’t sweat profusely any more, the cooler weather should ease me back in and make my Christmas in the UK more bearable, and it also lends to the festive feeling here – I’ve got my advent calendar ready, and so it’s quite nice to be feeling a slight need for wrapping up. And it’s perfect weather for soup! My run up to Christmas will primarily be focussing on the sweet treats that make the season so special for me, but I will try to post the odd savoury recipe too. In truth I love savoury Christmas food as well – a warming winter soup like this one, delicious vegetable side dishes for the big dinner itself, nibbles for festive parties. I made this soup rather hesitantly, as I find chestnuts can be a bit overpowering, but it’s actually quite subtly flavoured and is really delicious. It would make a nice starter for a fancy festive meal, or is just as good on its own with a hunk of bread.
Serves 5, from Nigella Christmas
1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 celery, chopped
250g red lentils
1.5 litres vegetable stock
250g vacuum-packed peeled chestnuts
4 tbsp sherry
1. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion, garlic, leek, carrot and celery and cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat until softening.
2. Stir in the lentils.
3. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables and lentils are tender.
4. Stir in the chestnuts, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before blending.
5. Blend in batches until it forms a thick, smooth soup. At this stage it can be frozen or chilled.
6. Reheat the soup. Stir in the sherry, season and add more water if it’s too thick.