Cold nights, so long… [spiced pepper and lentil soup]

Blimey it’s cold. I returned from a scintillating Italian oral class yesterday and practically fell upon the washing up, principally as a means of warming my ruddy hands. It’s the sort of weather that calls for hot, spicy soup. Soup that warms the heart and puts a spring in your step. And there is proper stock in the fridge from last week’s roast chicken, a more successful stock than that of some friends…

On Sunday night I went to their house for roast chicken, a real treat after an academically unproductive but quite ‘heavy’ weekend. I discovered the next morning that they had forgotten about the stock they put on and left it overnight, waking the next morning to a flat that was practically vibrating with the stench of charred chicken carcass. The place now has a police line around it.

Anyway, the soup….you might want to add a tin of tomatoes to this just to add another layer – I almost reckon you should, I just didn’t have one at the time.

Spiced pepper and lentil soup

Serves 2-3

1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon hot chilli powder
2 peppers (red, yellow, orange all fine – avoid green)
100g red lentils
1 tin of tomatoes
750ml hot chicken or vegetable stock (cubed is grand)
Salt, pepper and sugar
Yoghurt to finish

Heat a little oil in a saucepan and add the onion. Season and cook, covered, over a gentle heat for 5 minutes or so. Remove the lid and increase the flame. Stir in the chilli powder for 30 seconds, then add the peppers, lentils and tomatoes. Stir for a minute or two to get them going, then add the stock. Season with a little sugar, bring to the boil and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the lentils are fully cooked (no al dente here, please) and liquidize. Taste for seasoning and serve with a blob of yoghurt. Will keep a human body warm for 1-2 hours. Top up as needed.

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