Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to start my savoury rule just before the Christmas baking season. Needless to say, it hasn’t exactly worked out and nothing savoury has graced my blog since the chicken pie. Well, New Year, new resolutions – and back with the savoury.
I always think that there are two ways to go with food in January. There’s the detox, uber-healthy, salad and water survival way. Or there’s the “its-cold-and-summer-is-too-far-away” mentality – comfort, comfort, comfort. Whilst I always prefer the comfort way – this sort of manages to mix a bit of both. Carrot and Red Lentil soup, with Bacon and Cheese Bread.
On my “Savoury To Make List”, second from bottom, was a rather unclear wish - “some kinda soup”. I’ve never really made soup before so had no idea which way to go with it. It wasn’t until my Mum told me about her recipe (that sounded simple) for this soup, that I knew where I was heading. It was a learning curve for me, simple or not, and a couple of times I did ring my Mum “It’s too watery” “I think it’s the wrong lentils” “How many onions again?” etc BUT all that said and done – it tasted good. It didn’t turn out watery, in fact perhaps it was a tad on the thick side. I’ve said it before and I don’t mind repeating it – I adore sweet baking, its why I bake. But always at the end of a savoury bake or cooking, the sense of accomplishment is pretty good. There’s no stopping me and soup now ;)
And to go with it – Rachel Allen’s Bacon and Cheese Bread. Its another thing that sounds harder than it is – it’s not a yeast sort of bread, in fact its almost a savoury cake, especially with its soft texture. This bread is really simple and can be made up in so little time, no kneading or rising or anything like that. I guess you just can’t go wrong with Rachel Allen! The bread creates a gorgeous thick crust, and the lardons throughout mean bursts of extra flavour. Delicious, and even better toasted!
Rustic Bacon and Cheddar Bread, from Bake by Rachel Allen
Ingredients: 320g/11.5oz plain flour
1tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4tsp ground black pepper
100g/3.5oz Cheddar cheese, grated (I think you need to use more for stronger flavour)
100g/3.5oz bacon lardons cooked until crisp
200ml/7fl oz milk
1tbsp wholegrain mustard
60ml/2fl oz olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 180’C/350’F/Gas Mark 4. Lightly oil and line a 13x23cm (5x9in) loaf tin.
2. Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add the grated cheese and cooled bacon lardons and mix well.
3. Pour the milk into a large measuring jug, add the eggs, mustard and olive oil and whisk to combine.
4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and slowly pour in the liquid, stirring all the time until it is fully incorporated.
5. Pour (or spoon, my dough was not pourable) into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 50minutes. Remove from the tin and allow to cook for 10 more minutes on the oven shelf in order to crisp the bottom (I baked first for 45 minutes, then gave it 2-3 out the tin and this was more than enough). When cooked, it will sound hollow when tapped on the base. Allow to cool on a wire rack before eating.
My Mum’s Carrot and Red Lentil Soup. Serves 4
Ingredients: 1 onion
1 clove of garlic
4-5 carrots, sliced fairly thinly into circles
1 stick of celery, chopped
4-5tbsp red lentils
1 litre of vegetable stock (I make it 4tsp stock powder = 1 litre of hot water, but your stocks may vary)
1 tin of tomatoes
1. Finely chop the onion and crush the garlic. Soften the onion and garlic in a small amount of oil in a large saucepan/stock pot over a low heat. Add the carrots and celery.
2. Pour in your vegetable stock which should cover the vegetables. Spoon in the lentils, which won’t look like there are enough but they swell like rice during cooking.
3. Leave to simmer over a low heat until the vegetables are soft. Add the tomatoes and let cook for 4-5 minutes.
4. Blitz the soup in a food processor and serve. Some people like to blitz half and leave half, to get varied texture. You may need to add a little more stock if it is too thick, or cook and add more lentils if too thin. Enjoy!