It is nearly the end of April, the Queen and our friend Roti Boy celebrate their birthdays today, and everyone is back at work and school.
Did I have a lovely Easter? I had a quiet one, repotting some herbs, descaling the shower heads and clearing too many books from the bookshelf. Giving books away is not a task I am particularly good at, and every book in the charity bag makes me feel like that line in the Paul Young song:
Every time you go away… you take a piece of me with you
However, given my experience these past 10 months in trying to clear my father’s study, I am determined to let go of books which no longer spark joy. I am re-reading Marie Kondo’s book* and I cannot recommend this highly enough.
Niece Number One has been staying with us for three weeks and is heading back to Durham tomorrow morning. We have one final lunch together before tackling her pre-university books and clothes. She listens attentively when I tell her she must not hoard books like her grandfather or clothes like her grandmother. I wonder if she is thinking that she must not hoard kitchen equipment like her auntie…
For lunch I make a quick, easy and very forgiving soup. I have played fast and loose so many times with the quantities required of the vegetables but the soup always tastes the same. So the quantities given below are somewhat approximate except for the lentils, tomatoes and stock which I never change. Everything else is a matter of what you have to hand.
There is hardly any fat in the soup yet it tastes rich and creamy. Now that I think about it, Roti Boy loves his Thermomix so I am writing up this recipe for him, also for my sisters to whom I have given a rough recipe previously.
For the Soup:
40 g red lentils (use white long-grain rice if you do not have lentils)
50 – 100 g red or white onion
2 – 4 garlic cloves
200 – 300 g red/ orange/ yellow peppers, de-seeded and cut in quarters
30 – 45 g olive oil
400 g tinned chopped tomatoes or 400 g fresh tomatoes, cut into small pieces
1 vegetable stock cube
400 g water or 400 g vegetable stock (omit the stock cube then)
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper/ ¼ teaspoon smoked chipotle chilli flakes/ 1 fresh bird’s eye chilli/ half a red regular chilli
A small pinch of sugar
Fresh parsley for garnishing
How to Make:
Place the lentils in the TM mixing bowl and grind 20 secs/ speed 10. This will make a very fine powder so to prevent it from escaping through the lid, place an 8 inch/ 20 cm piece of baking parchment in between the rim of the bowl and the lid. In practice I always grind more lentils than I need and store the rest in a bottle for another day.
Transfer the ground lentils to a bowl and set aside.
Place the onion, garlic, fresh pepper and oil into the TM bowl and chop 2 – 3 seconds/ speed 5.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and then sauté for 5 minutes/ 100 C/ speed 1.
Add the tinned or fresh tomatoes, stock, ground lentils, pinch of sugar and the chilli seasoning of choice. Cook for 12 – 14 minutes/ 100 C/ speed 1.
Puree the soup for 1 minute/ speed 6 – 10, increasing the speed gradually over the first 20 seconds.
Serve the soup hot with a drizzle of herb oil or a sprinkling pf freshly chopped herbs like parsley or chives. We ate our soup with what I call our In-House Loaf (recipe in a later post).
The two books I want to keep:
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo, published by Vermilion, ISBN 978-0091955106
Spark Joy by Marie Kondo, published by Vermilion, ISBN 978-1785041020