There’s a phrase that gets banded around a fair amount in our house – “it’s not a looker”. It tends to be made with reference to food and is a polite way of saying, “That looks pretty grim but it tastes lovely.” And it’s almost always followed by, ” … like Mushroom Soup. We haven’t had that for AGES. Can you make it again?”
So I would have 3 observations on this –
- Fair cop. Mushroom Soup is not a looker. It’s the grey. Even with a swirl of cream and a sprinkle of parsley, it’s challenging for sure.
- Fair cop. I haven’t made Mushroom Soup for ages. Note to self.
- Fair cop. This Chicken and Puy Lentil Soup is also not a looker, but just like its mushroomy cousin, it’s truly delicious.
It’s officially winter here in Dubai. The evening temperatures have dropped below 30°C, there’s no longer the need to have 3 showers a day and yesterday #2 teenage son optimistically got out his woolly bobble cap to wear to go to morning swim training. He did put his nose out of the front door and swiftly put it back in the drawer though – it’s ‘cooler’ for sure but we’ve not reached ‘cold’ yet.
But in my world, ‘cooler’ is more than an adequate excuse to knock up a soup and come to think of it, I’ll find any excuse no matter what the outside temperature is reading.
The combination of chicken and lentils just screams COSY and that’s what this soup delivers in ladlefuls. It’s packed with vegetables (the kind that you’ll often find looking a bit unloved at the bottom of the fridge) and it’s also a great way to use some of your mounting mountain of chicken stock from the freezer. Maybe that should really read a ‘chicken stock lake’, but somehow frozen stock = a mountain. Now I’m wittering …
So here’s a quick run down of why I think you’ll be cosying up with this soup too –
- It’s yummy.
- It’s super easy to make + you could make it even easier by using the shredded chicken from a ready cooked deli chicken instead.
- It’s healthy – veggies, chicken and lentils … you can’t go wrong with that.
- It’s great value.
- It will keep you feeling full for ages – that’ll be the lentils.
- It freezes like a dream and reheats beautifully.
Go on – celebrate winter with the full on cosiness of a bowl of Chicken and Puy Lentil Soup. Woolly bobble hats probably not required. Yet …
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 2 sticks celery, finely diced
- 2 carrots, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato purée
- 3 litres (12 cups) chicken stock
- 500g (2 cups) Puy lentils
- 500g (1lb) boneless, skinless chicken thighs OR 500g (1lb) shredded chicken from a ready cooked deli chicken
- Heat up the olive oil in a large, heavy based saucepan. Add the onion, celery, carrots and garlic and cook gently until the vegetables have softened - probably about 10 minutes.
- Add the tomato purée and stir to coat the vegetables. Allow this to cook for a minute or so.
- Now add the chicken stock and the lentils and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the chicken thighs to the pan. Next put a lid on the pan and leave to cook for 1 hour, checking occasionally to make sure that nothing is sticking and that the liquid is not bubbling too ferociously.
- When the lentils are ready, remove the chicken thighs with a slotted spoon and put them on a plate to cool before shredding the meat with a pair of forks.
- Next decide how you like your soup ... If you like a smooth soup, you will need to blend the whole soup. If you prefer a few chunks, but with a thicker base, take out some of the soup to blend and then return it to the pan (this is what I did here). If you opt for a very chunky soup then just leave it as it is.
- Stir the shredded chicken back into the soup and garnish with a little torn basil.