lentil, pancetta and oregano soup
I’ve never been particularly fond of pulses – kidney beans, chickpeas and pinto beans just don’t do it for me. But over the last couple of years I’ve slowly taken to the lentil – delicate puy lentils, lovely with roasted fish and the more rustic brown lentils which are wonderful in soups, taking on all the flavours of their pot-mates. I came across this one day while flipping through Allegra McEvedy‘s cookbook, and have made it numerous times since. It’s a real winner – wonderfully earthy and packed full of flavour, with a smoky sweetness from the pancetta. Totally satisfying and frugal to boot, if ever there was a reason to love the lentil, this soup is it.
Lentil, Pancetta and Oregano Soup
(adapted from the Leon cookbook)
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp olive oil
140g (5oz) pancetta, diced
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks celery, finely chopped
3 bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
140g (5oz) brown or green lentils
1 1/2 litre (6 cups) chicken stock
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large pot over a high flame, once hot add the pancetta and fry until crispy and golden. Add the chopped vegetables, then lower the heat slightly to gently cook until tender (about 12-15 minutes).
Once the vegetables have taken on some colour add the bay leaves, oregano and garlic, stir, and cook for another 5 minutes.
Add the vinegar, tomato paste and the lentils, making sure to give it all a good stir so the lentils are well combined with everything in the pot. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and leave to simmer for 30 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper if desired (I find that I never need to as it’s so tasty as is). Serve in large bowls with some crusty bread, or ladled over a poached egg (which was what I did for lunch with the leftover soup the next day – awesome!).