It was a friend’s 30th birthday on Saturday and we were gathering at 5pm, in fancy dress, for a few drinks before heading over to a rugby match in Christchurch – Canterbury Crusaders vs South Africa’s Cats. So there was a night of merriment before us – and probably a Sunday of its aftermath. There are several ways of protecting against a hangover, a couple of them being drink plenty of (non-alcoholic) liquids and don’t go on the piss on an empty stomach. So I decided to make a pre-emptive strike on the hangover by feeding myself and the Boyfriend a big bowl of homemade soup before we left the house. It was a bit of a thrown-together recipe as I was busy making a birthday cake at the same time but it did it’s job – and there was enough left over in the morning to give us a very substantial brunch. A dish not only for the night before but also for the morning after!
It should have been vegetable soup but I forgot to buy celery at the Saturday morning St Albans Market so the main vegetable in it was diced carrot. I threw in a red onion for sweetness, a couple of pieces of smoked ham hock to add flavour and a few handfuls of red lentils to thicken it, kept it bubbling away on the cooker while I got stuck into the cake and the end result was far better than the lack of attention should have warranted. Take out the hocks and give it a whiz with a hand-held blender if you’re looking for a soup with a bit more finesse but, as it is, it has good body and texture.
Carrot and Lentil Soup
Carrot – 1
Red onion – 1
Olive oil – 1 tablespoon
Smoked ham hock – 2 pieces, approx 400g in weight
Red split lentils – 200g
Bay leaf – 1
Finely dice the carrot and onion. Warm the oil in a saucepan then add the vegetables and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes until softened. Add the smoked ham hock pieces and 1½ litres of water. Bring to the boil and keep at a simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the lentils and bay leaf and simmer again for another 40 minutes. Fish out the pieces of ham hock and bay leaf. Taste before seasoning – the ham hocks may be salty – and add plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Serve with plenty of hot buttered toast.