This is a soup I keep coming back to lately, as it’s the ideal January soup in my mind; really warming and comforting for these freezing cold, grey January days, but also vegan, wholesome and healthy, which I think we all tend to crave a little after the excess of rich foods at Christmas. It’s incredibly simple and quick to make, so perfect for a mid-week lunch.
Chunky lentil and orzo soup
- Generous glug of olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and diced
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed and roughly chopped
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1 large carrot, washed and very finely diced (brunoise)
- 2 sticks celery, very finely diced (brunoise)
- 2 tbsp double concentrate tomato puree
- 65g brown lentils
- 1 ltr vegetable stock
- 50g dried orzo (or another small shape such as ditalini, anelli or stelline)
- Salt and black pepper
- Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan, then add the onion, garlic and bay, and sauté it over a medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened and aromatic.
- Add the carrots and celery, and sauté for about 5 minutes until starting to soften.
- Add the tomato puree, stir to combine, then add the lentils followed by the vegetable stock. Bring it to the boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are just tender. As soon as the lentils are tender, add the orzo,season with salt and black pepper, and return it to the boil. Stir frequently to prevent the pasta sticking to the bottom, and simmer for another 10 minutes until the pasta is al dente.
- Remove it from the heat, check seasoning, and serve immediately.
Feel free to add chilli (dried or fresh) at the start along with the onions and garlic, if you want it spicy. And frozen peas at the end are a good way of bulking it out, getting a nice pop of colour and another of your 5-a-day into it – I always add peas when making this for my kids.