Seeing as both Darina and Rachel have recently been assuring the readers of their cookery books that it’s become very fashionable to entertain at home instead of going out – that, and the fact that the Boyfriend and I finally have somewhere to call home – we had some friends round last week after work for hot chocolates. It was a bitterly cold evening as I made my way home from work so I decided to supplement the hot chocolates with some soup.
With just 20 minutes before my guests were due to arrive, I crossed my fingers and opened the cupboard doors. After a quick scan of the ingredients available to me, and with one eye on the clock, I decided to merge two recipes. The first was a Roast Tomato and Lentil Soup that Judith Cullen had cooked at a Christchurch cookery demonstration but, having neither the time for roasting tomatoes nor cooking lentils, I took the idea of that recipe and added it to my speedy store cupboard saviour, Fran’s Best Lentil Soup. A tin supplied the lentils and, if the roasted tomatoes were not available to me, I could at least substitute some decent Italian tinned plum tomatoes picked up on sale earlier in the week at The Best of Italy on Dunville Avenue in Ranelagh. No fresh thyme either this time round but, as this is supposed to be a store cupboard soup, it’s probably not so bad to use dried.
Luckily, while getting milk for the hot chocolates, I had already picked up some decent Brown Soda Bread on the way home. We served mugs of the soup with thick slices of the bread and plenty of good salty Irish butter. A warming opening for a relaxing evening of hot chocolates, cookies and lots of chat.
Store Cupboard Lentil and Tomato Soup
Olive oil – 1 tablespoon
Onion – 1, peeled and roughly chopped
Garlic – 2 cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
Lentils – 1 x 400g tin
Tomatoes – 1 x 400g tin
Dried thyme – ½ teaspoon
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the onions and garlic and cook over a medium heat for about five minutes until softened. Add the tinned lentils, liquid and all, the tomatoes and the thyme. Season and heat until simmering. Leave chunky or blend carefully with an immersion blender for a smoother texture. Serve with Brown Soda Bread.
Makes 5 scant mugs of soup or two generous bowls.