Winter has definitely kicked in; the beautiful old oak tree that over-hangs our garden is unceremoniously dumping piles of leaves on the grass that takes a lot of energy and effort to clear. And the cold bitter wind dotted with tiny snowflakes fluttering around are a sure sign that it’s time to keep warm on the inside as well as the outside.
This is the time of year when thick, warming soups and stews are best, offering comforting and tasty nourishment that keeps the chills away. I love this bean and tomato soup as it’s incredibly easy to make and is packed full of healthy phytonutrients that help boost the immune system. And with a hefty helping of lentils and beans, it’s also packed full of plant-based protein. It’s rather lovely too!
So next time you’re shopping, make sure all these ingredients are in your basket and give yourself a ‘souper’ warming treat!
Bean and tomato soup (serves 4-6)
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1/2 cup red lentils
750ml vegetable stock
400g tin mixed beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper
Put a couple of tablespoons of water in the bottom of a large pan and heat until bubbling or spray the bottom with olive oil. Add the onion, leek, carrot and celery, and sweat with the lid on over a medium heat for 5 minutes or so until the veg start to soften. Add the garlic and lentils and cook for another minute, stirring all the time so they don’t stick to the pan. Pour in the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, smoked paprika, cumin and thyme and mix well, then add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Once boiling, pop on the lid, reduce the heat and cook for 20 minutes until the lentils are mushy.
Turn off the heat, leave to cool for a couple of minutes then blitz with a stick blender until smooth. Stir in the rinsed beans, season to taste with salt and pepper and gently heat through until the soup is bubbling and the beans are hot. Serve piping hot and feel instantly warmed from head to toe!