Six pound supper
Soup is a brilliant meal to make once a week if you’re keeping an eye on your wallet. It’s easy to make, inexpensive and very versatile. Soups make a great lunch the following day and can often be frozen. If you serve it with homemade bread, spread with proper butter of course, it suddenly becomes a proper meal.
This squash and lentil soup is packed with hearty lentils which fill you up and goes well with easy homemade soda bread. If you bake the squash in the oven wrapped in foil, it cuts out all the peeling and chopping making it easy peasy to prepare. You can bake the squash in the oven at the same time as your soda bread earlier in the day – or even the day before.
Soda bread is really easy to make, requires no fancy equipment or ingredients and hardly any preparation time. Adding some dried herbs to soda bread gives it a lovely flavour when served with soup. Just don’t forget it’s got herbs and spread it with jam the following day!
For the herby soda bread
• 450ml semi-skimmed milk
• Juice 1 lemon (or 3 tablespoon lemon juice from a bottle)
• 500g plain flour
• 3 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
• 2 teaspoons table salt
• ½ teaspoon of each: dried rosemary and dried thyme
For the squash and lentil soup
• 1 medium butternut squash (just under 1kg) wrapped snugly in tin foil
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 1 large onion, peeled and diced
• 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
• 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
• 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
• 150g red lentils, washed well until water runs clear
• 1 litre hot vegetable stock
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Pumpkin or squash seeds to serve
To make the soda bread
1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6 / 200 C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Sprinkle the baking paper liberally with flour.
2. Mix the milk and lemon juice together and put to one side to sour and thicken. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and dried herbs.
3. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk and lemon juice mixture. Mix everything together using a blunt knife until just combined. If it's a little too wet, add some flour but not so much it becomes dry.
4. Form into a round flat-ish shape in your hands and place on the lined baking sheet. Give it a good dusting of flour and cut a deep cross into the dough.
5. Bake for around 45 minutes along with the foil wrapped squash if you like (see below) until golden brown and cooked through. It should make a hollow sound when tapped. Allow to cool before slicing.
To make the squash and lentil soup
1. Place the squash tightly wrapped in foil in a preheated oven at gas mark 6 / 200 C for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, leave to cool and unwrap. Slice in half lengthways, scoop out seeds with a spoon and set to one side. Scoop out the soft cooked butternut squash flesh and set to one side. You can bake the squash in the oven at the same time as your soda bread!
2. Heat the oil in the pan and add the onion, carrot and garlic. Stir fry for around 5 minutes until soft, then add the paprika and stir fry for another minute.
3. Add the lentils, stock, and the butternut squash flesh from step 1. Stir, season to taste, bring to the boil and simmer for around 20 minutes until the lentils are soft.
4. Blend the soup (using a hand blender or by transferring it to a food processor) until smooth and serve topped with pumpkin seeds if you like.