This is a soothing, slightly sweet and earthy soup that is the perfect light meal for a cold winter’s day. Peeling and cooking chestnuts is extremely laborious, so this recipe uses canned pre-cooked ones to save time.
We love it serve with warm sourdough bread, drizzled with crème fraîche and sprinkled with chopped thyme and shaved chestnuts.
The red lentils in this dish add substance and are a great source of vegetarian protein. They are also rich in fibre, which has numerous benefits for our health including preventing constipation, promoting fullness and satiety after eating and helping to keep our cholesterol and blood glucose levels within healthy parameters.
Adapted from How to Eat by Nigella Lawson.
Recipe created by Nourish cook and Dietitian, Clare Gray.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour and 20 minutes
1 medium yellow onion
1 small leek
1 stick of celery
1 teaspoon good quality salt flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil
250g red lentils rinsed well several times
1½ litres of fresh vegetable or chicken stock
a few sprigs of thyme and parsley with stems
1 bay leaf
2 black peppercorns
1 teaspoon allspice
250g cooked chestnuts
Crème fraîche and chopped thyme to serve
- Wash and finely chop the onion, leek, carrot and celery. You will want these to cook evenly so ensure they are chopped to a similar size.
- Place the olive oil in a large pan and place over a low to medium heat.
- Add the chopped vegetables and season with salt.
- Stir and allow the vegetables to sweat gently for 15 minutes until they are soft and colourless. If they start to colour, lower the heat and add a touch more oil.
- Once the vegetables are softened, add the red lentils and stir.
- Add the stock.
- Tie the bay leaf, thyme and parsley stems together with a piece of string and place into the pan along with the peppercorns and allspice.
- Increase the heat and bring to a boil.
- Simmer until the lentils are very soft, approximately 40 minutes.
- Use a ladle to remove any foam than appears on the top of the soup during cooking.
- Add the chestnuts and simmer for a further 15- 20 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaf, parsley stems and thyme tied with string.
- Use a blender, food processor or hand blender to liquidise until smooth.
- Add water to thin out as needed.
Serve hot with a dollop of crème fraîche and a sprinkle of chopped thyme.
This soup will keep well for several days or can be frozen and consumed within 3 months.