Soup is the song of the hearth…and the home.
-Louis P. De Gouy
Christmas is here! I am so excited! After all, December is one of my favourite months—Christmas and my birthday rolled into one glorious wintry month! So, in honour of both those great events I have dedicated this month to Christmas inspired food.
First up, things have been insane lately: before Thanksgiving even hit Korea, I had been sick almost a week. Now, it’s over two weeks later and this cold is hanging on with its icy toes. It doesn’t help that the weather has completely changed over the last week or so. Before Thanksgiving, the weather was a bit cold, but mostly decent and you could do things like go for an 8k walk. Since the 1st December, though, snow has hit on average 5 days out of 7. It’s much colder and this hasn’t helped me to recover at all—despite mostly staying inside, wrapped in a blanket, with the ondol (floor heating) and space heater on full blast. To top it all off, on Tuesday evening last week when I went to wash the dishes the gas wouldn’t turn on. Luckily it was just a loose cable and was quickly fixed. However, it gave me a pause: how lucky are we to have hot, running water at our beck and call? Seriously, I press a button and 2 minutes later I can jump into a hot shower. It’s fantastic. I’m nearly recovered from my cold now, and I owe it in part to one awful soup and one perfect soup. Obviously the awful soup, although packed with nutrients, is not share worthy, so onward to the perfect soup!
This soup was inspired by the Avoca Cafe Cookbook which one of my sisters got as a wedding gift. Avoca is an Irish family-run business with several cafes around Ireland. The cafe on Suffolk Street is a favourite place of mine to meet friends and family for lunch on the weekend. When I moved to Korea, I knew I’d probably only have a one-ring stove, so I asked my family for appropriate recipes. This was the one my sister shared with me, and I’ve made it a few times since. The first time I didn’t own a blender, and a blender definitely makes a world of difference!
Tomato, Orange and Lentil Soup
- 3½ tbsp butter/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion peeled and finely chopped.
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
- 3-5 whole cloves
- 1 orange, grated for zest, peeled and chopped. Remove pith.
- ½ cup red lentils, washed
- 1 400g/14oz tin tomatoes
- 2 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
- salt and pepper, to season
- mint, to serve (optional)
- orange zest, to serve (optional)
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan on medium heat.
- Once melted, add the onion and sweat for around 7 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cloves and sweat a further 5 minutes.
- Stir in the lentils so that they are covered in butter.
- Stir in the zest and chopped oranges.
- Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are cooked*.
- Blend well, season gently with salt and pepper, and reheat.
- Serve with toasted bread, and, if you want fresh mint** and orange zest.
*If you want, at this point remove the cloves.
**If, like me, you don’t have any fresh mint on hand, sprinkle a little dried mint on top.