Is it just me, or is baking bread the go-to activity for so many of us French and Unfrench during lock down? I've seen so many photos of homemade bread! So when I made soup, of course I had to make my own bread to go with it. I didn't want to make a regular loaf though. Since my soup had spices in it, I wanted the bread to have plenty of flavour too. I settled on a garlic and herb focaccia.
The best focaccia I've ever had was at an Italian restaurant in Putney, London. It was so different to any of the shop bought stuff I'd had in the past and transformed my view of the bread. This had so much flavour and was incredibly moist.
I chose this recipe, and it turned out so well. Given we're in lock down, I only had dried herbs but it was still so tasty. I used thyme because that;s what I had in, and thyme is in the soup so it made sense. I had to use a lot more flour than is listed in the recipe but this is always the case with bread. I used half with soup yesterday, and I think the remaining bread served warm with more olive oil and balsamic vinegar will make the perfect apero.
So back to the soup. I had this multiple times in Turkey. It was served for breakfast. It's the perfect soup to have all year round. I'd probably make it thicker in winter, but thinner in summer. The dried mint in it gives it a lovely summery feel, so it didn't feel out of place even in the warm weather in Istanbul. I always associate Turkey with lamb, so when I had some homemade lamb stock, this seemed like the natural use for it. Of course, this whole meal could be vegetarian just by using vegetable stock here.
Since coming back, I've made it a few times because it can be made from store cupboard ingredients in around 30 minutes and requires no skill. It's so simple! I can't recommend this soup highly enough.
For four servings, you'll need:
- 3 pints stock (lamb or vegetable)
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 1 teacup red lentils
- 2tsp paprika
- 2tsp chilli powder
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1tbsp dried mint (or more if you're like me!)
1. Saute the onion and carrots for 5 minutes until slightly coloured.
2. Add the stock, spices and lentils. Bring to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes, or until the veg and lentils are soft.
3. Puree with a stick blender or in a blender (but make sure you leave the lid slightly off or remove that little cup in the centre of the lid so you don't create a hot soup explosion).