One of my favourite bowls, is one which contains a hearty soup or broth. If it can have dumplings smuggled into it too, then I am a happy girl ( Middle aged Woman). If there is a lack of dumplings then bread torn eagerly fits the bill. Or have more broth. You will be full and content either way.
1 tsp olive oil
3 Carrots- diced.
1 Medium Onion – diced
2 sticks of celery-diced
1tsp mixed herbs
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Bay leaves
1/2 cup or 100g rinsed red lentils
1/2 cup or 50g porridge oats blitzed into flour ( can be put in whole but the soup is less smooth)
1/2 cup finely diced or shredded Gammon/Ham.
Stock ( preferably from cooking the ham) if not- chicken or veg stock will be fine.
The Method and the Madness
Warm the olive oil in a large pan, then add the diced veg herbs, bay leaf and pepper, and cook on medium heat until the onions are translucent.
Add the oats ( preferably blended into flour) and the rinsed lentils. Stir until everything is combined and the oats have had a chance to ‘toast’ slightly. Add your very finely diced /shredded gammon/ham, and pour in stock till everything is covered. When it reaches a rolling boil, turn to the lowest setting and let it simmer for 10 minutes, adding more stock as you go for the consistency you prefer. When it is looking perfect for you, taste it.
Remember that gammon/ham and stock of any kind can be quite salty, they all vary so much. So with this in mind, only add salt at the end if it is needed, in the past i have salted soups only to find that when it has simmered/thickened up the flavour has intensified, and I am not a huge fan of salt. ( High blood pressure family history) I find when I use the gammon cooking stock I do not need any extra stock cubes or salt, if I only have vegetable or chicken stock then I usually want to add some.
This dish is also lovely with scraps of chicken and chicken stock in place of gammon, and as a vegan dish is beautiful with vegetable stock and a tablespoon or two of yeast extract. (Marmite) . Often i have made the vegan version, and simply added some scraps of meat to the bowls of those that wanted it.
One of my favourite things about this dish, is that other than the lentils and olive oil, the ingredients were all grown/raised in the UK. Not only is this vital for supporting our UK farmers and reducing our carbon footprint, it also means they are readily available during lockdown as they are not being imported.
I love getting my fruit and veg box from the local market every week.
The blog below is a little ditty to my childhood on the allotment, getting back to our roots, and learning to be amazed again. Give it a read if you have a few minutes, because I really need to know about the worms!