NOTE: This is an older recipe, of which I cannot retrace when I originally posted it before the hack of my old domain name.
Years ago, I was living in London and had just broken up with ‘a bit of a dick’ (his words). I was really missing his food until I realized I could just buy the cookbook he always used: Nigel Slater’s Appetite.
Nigel Slater’s Appetite taught me how to cook
It’s one of the best purchases I’ve ever made and I’ve gifted it to many a friend who wanted to learn how to cook. What’s great about Nigel is he doesn’t give you time frames for cooking, but explains the process in terms of looks, smells and textures. Which is really what you should be going on when you’re hovering over a stove.
What’s more, every recipe in this book includes re-imaginings of the basic recipe. This gives you a foundation to build on and teaches you how flavors and textures work together.
Beluga lentils, unfuckupable
I had this soup at least once a week while I was living in London. When I moved back to Holland I fucked it up once and turned it into more of a split pea soup, which I hate, and then I sort of forgot about it for a while.
Until last week, it was cold and a friend came round for dinner. I just wanted something easy, warm and comforting, with a little kick to it. It was the perfect fit.
It helps that I’ve since discovered the mighty Beluga lentil, which is unfuckupable and easy on the eyes.
Nigel Slater's Bacon Lentil Soup
- Heavy based pot with a lid
- Two meal-sized soup bowls
- 4 medium shallots finely chopped
- olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 1/2 c / 100 gr bacon diced
- small bunch parsley roughly chopped
- 1 1/4 c / 250 gr lentils I prefer Beluga or black lentils, see notes
- 4 1/2 c / 1 l stock vegetable or chicken, water also works
- 2-3 handfuls fresh spinach for serving
- pinch salt
- pinch pepper
- 1 lemon cut into wedges, for serving
- small bunch fresh mint torn, leaves only
- To begin, gently cook 4 finely chopped shallots, 4 finely chopped cloves of garlic and 100 gr of bacon in some olive oil in a heavy based pot. Stir every once in a while until the bacon has turned golden and everything has gone fragrant and glossy before adding a small bunch of roughly cut parsley.
- Wash 1 1/4 c/ 250 gr of lentils carefully, picking out any tiny stones. Add them to the pot and stir them into your bacon and onion mixture.
- Now add 4 1/2 c/ 1 l of stock or water, until everything is well and covered and bring to a boil. Skim off any froth that bubbles to the surface and turn down the heat to a gentle roll.
- Cover with a barely closed lid and cook until the lentils are tender. This should take 30 minutes or so.
- When the soup is nearly done, divide 2-3 hands of fresh spinach among 2 bowls.
- Season the soup with salt and pepper, a pinch at a time, until it tastes right to you, before ladling it onto the spinach and into the bowls.
- Serve with wedges of lemon and the torn fresh mint, garnishing the soup as you eat it so you get a nice fresh pop of lemon and mint in with every bite.