Tag Archives: Comfort Food

Bacon and Lentil Soup

Lentil Bacon Soup with Roasted Fennel & Olive Bread
Lentil Bacon Soup with Roasted Fennel & Olive Bread
image: A Little Thought For Food

As January passes into  February and the weather stays we and wild down in the south east of England, my soon to be wife (Kim) and I started a bit of a health kick.  We both trying to eat less fat, more pulses and vegetables,  and soup seems the obvious choice for lunch, homemade of course! I quick check through the cupboards  and fridge, last weekend, led me to this recipe. It’s worth finely dicing the vegetables in this recipe as it gives the finished soup a better finished result.

A quick calculation of the caloric values of the ingredients suggests that it should be around 500kcals per portion

Serves 4 – Gluten Free*

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium brown onion, finely diced
  • 2 x 70g packs pancetta
  • 1 medium carrot (about 120g), finely diced
  • 1 stick of celery, finely diced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 chilli, sliced
  • 1.25 litres of fresh Chicken or Vegetable stock or 2 good  gluten free stock cubes in 1.25 litres of boiling water
  • 250g red lentils, rinsed

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add 1 pack of pancetta and cook until the fat starts to run,
  2. Add the onion, celery and the carrot. Cook on a low to medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the onions are soft.
  3. Add the cumin, turmeric, garlic and chilli and cook for a further 1 – 2 minutes until the aromas are released.
  4. Pour in the stock and add the lentils.
  5. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 mins, stirring occasionally to ensure the lentils aren’t sticking.
  6. Meanwhile, fry the remaining pack of pancetta in a small frying pan for about 10 minutes until golden and crispy. You don’t need to add any oil as plenty will run from the pancetta.
  7. Sprinkle of crispy lardons on top of the soup after serving.

Sit back and enjoy with a few slices of fresh crusty Roasted Fennel and Olive Bread or Irish Soda Bread

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently

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Pea and Ham Soup

Pea & Ham SoupImage: bbc.co.uk/food
Pea & Ham Soup
Image: bbc.co.uk/food

This is one of those soups that bring memories of childhood in the cold British winter streaming back. It’s one of those warming comfort foods that my Mum used to cook to drive the cold from my little brother’s and my bones after playing outside. This Pea and ham soup is a really satisfying dinner, ready in 15 minutes, using simple ingredients you probably already have in the cupboard.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil or butter if you prefer
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large potato (about 250g), peeled, cut into small cubes
  • 300g frozen petits pois or garden peas
  • 400ml chicken stock (use a gluten free option for a gluten free recipe)
  • 200ml semi-skimmed or whole milk
  • 100g thick cut, good quality ham (Smoked ham adds to the flavour)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serves 2 – 4 – Gluten Free*

Method

  1. Heat the oil or butter in a large saucepan on low or medium heat, then add the onion and potato.
  2. Season with salt and pepper, then stir to coat the vegetables in the oil.
  3. Take a piece of baking paper large enough to cover the top of the pan, scrunch it up, wet it then unfold it. Lay the paper over the surface of the vegetables, sealing them in right to the edges of the pan (this helps cook the vegetables more quickly).
  4. Put a lid on the pan, cook on a low heat for 8-10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the onions are soft and translucent.
  5. Remove the paper and add the peas and stock to the pan, then bring to the boil.
  6. Cook for a couple of minutes until all of the peas have floated to the top of the stock and are tender and bright.
  7. Take the pan off the heat. Using an immersion blender, process the peas until very smooth.
  8. Add the milk (or, if preferred, use more stock, water or cream).
  9. Tear in most of the ham.
  10. Bring the soup back to a simmer, then season to taste with salt and pepper, remembering that the ham is fairly salty.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls then scatter with the rest of the ham.

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently

Rhubarb and Blood Orange Crumble

Rhubarb and Blood Orange Crumble
Rhubarb and Blood Orange Crumble

This is definitely my one of my favourite January crumbles. It’s so pretty when made with the forced winter rhubarb, and you get to combine the rhubarb with the intensity of seasonal blood oranges.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 450g/1lb rhubarb
  • 2 blood oranges, peeled and cut into rounds
  • 4 blood oranges, juice only
  • 125g/4oz caster sugar
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways, seeds scraped out

For the topping

  • 50g/2oz unsalted butter
  • 100g/4oz plain flour
  • 50g/2oz demerara sugar
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • 50g/2oz flaked almonds

Method

  1. Cut the rhubarb into 5cm/2in pieces and lay them in a 23cm/9in ovenproof dish.
  2. Top with the orange pieces.
  3. Place the orange juice in a saucepan over a medium heat.
  4. Add the sugar, star anise, cinnamon stick and vanilla seeds.
  5. Continue to heat until it becomes syrupy.
  6. Strain, then pour over the rhubarb.

For the topping

  1. Place the butter, flour, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and use your hands to rub them together until it looks like breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the almonds and spoon the crumble on top of the fruit.
  3. Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden-brown.

Serve with clotted cream or custard and/Vanilla Ice Cream

Sausages and Lentil Casserole

Sausage and Lentil Casserole
Image: BBCGoodFood.com

Was looking through my old recipe scrap book and I found an old ‘easy one pot’ favourite. This is a recipe that last had back in 2006, before point that I used to have it regularly but must have just plain forgotten about it.

Now it’s been found, I must have it again. Served with a hunk of good bread it’s one of my comfort food fav’s

Serves 2-3 – Gluten Free*

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 6 Pork Sausages (I use Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Sicilian Style Sausages as they have a good garlicky fennel flavour that works well with the lentils, and they’re Gluten Free too!)
  • 1 onion peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
  • 150g Puy Lentils (can use everyday brown or green lentils too!)
  • 600ml hot chicken stock
  • 1 large tomato roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Heat olive oil and cook sausages until golden.
  2. Add onion and garlic and cook for a further 2-3 mins
  3. Add the lentils, stock and chopped tomato.
  4. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer gently for 40-45 mins until the lentils are tender and the stock is almost all absorbed
  5. Stir in the Balsamic vinegar and parsley
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a good sized chunk of bread, like my Irish Soda Bread (or a Gluten Free alternative) and enjoy a bowl of warming hearty comfort food.

*Gluten Free - Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently.

Lamb Hotpot with Celeriac and Potato

Lamb Hotpot
Lamb Hotpot

This is another British classic, a regional stew from Lancashire, in the North West of the England for those who aren’t from these parts. Although using a cheaper cut of meat, neck fillet, the taste is spectacular and it’s slow cooking ensures that the meat is soft and unctuous add in the layers of potato and celeriac it makes a great comfort food after a cold winters day on “t’moors” or anywhere else.

If you can’t get neck fillet, trimmed and cubed lamb rump works just as well.

Serves 4 – Gluten Free

Ingredients

  • 650g lamb neck fillet
  • 2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned  (use a gluten free alternative like Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain White Flour, for a Gluten Free Version of the recipe)
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 2  medium to large brown onions, sliced
  • 125g chestnut mushrooms roughly sliced
  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme
  • 500ml hot lamb stock
  • 350g  celeriac, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 300g floury potatoes, like King Eward, scrubbed and thinly sliced

Method

  1. Preheat the oven 150C/140C fan/Gas Mark 2
  2. Trim any excess fat from the lamb and cut into cunky bite sized pieces
  3. Pop the seasoned flour onto a plate  and use it to dust the lamb cubes
  4. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a 2 litre Cast Iron casserole and brown the lamb in batches, don’t crowd the pan as this will cause the lamb to steam rather than fry and it won’t brown, in this case less is more (If you don’t have a flame proof casserole, use a frying pan and stew in a 2 litre oven proof dish). The browned lamb will give the gravy a rich colour and flavour.
  5. Once browned put the lamb on a plate.
  6. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and fry the onions for 2 minutes or until the start to soften.
  7. Pop in the remaining oil and add the mushrooms and thyme and fry for a further 5 minutes, when the mushrooms should have softened.
  8. Put the lamb back into the onion and mushrooms and stir
  9. Pour over the stock and layer the celeriac, covering the top of the mixture.
  10. Top with the potato slices creating a nice layered look.
  11. Cover with a lid or foil and place in the oven for 1 1/2 hours
  12. Uncover and cook for a further hour or until the potato topping is crispy and golden.
  13. Leave to rest for 15 mins, this will allow the potato starch to bind the the stew slightly.

Serve with some steamed Chanteney carrot and green beans or tender stemmed broccoli.