I am not much in the mind for cooking, that is new, and possibly a bit worrying. I cook so much now for others, with a full day of prep, followed by 2 days at the market, and two 16 hour days in a row at that, that I find I have little enthusiasm for cooking for myself at home. Call me jaded.
I do however, crave something really healthy. My body is battered and I feel a bit weary. I also want to hide out at home and eat here. It has been a very challenging month. Something quick that I can make that sings of hearty full flavour, that will settle my tum, and soothe my frazzled senses. It sounds like I need a good solid soup.
But, what soup? I am not really in the mind for something complicated, I want it to be fresh and wholesome. I am thinking back to my pea & ham soup that I made for the market on Thursday, and sadly forgot to photograph! The absence of my DSLR is making a very bad blogger of me. I am so disappointed with the results from my old point and shoot, I find that I am demotivated on the photographic front, so until I replace it and get my mojo back, please forgive the crap photos.
Back to the soup, it was very good in my humble opinion, and as an Italian customer said, it had the essence of the pig. You really can’t beat a good soup at this time of year and this one is one of my favourites, made simply with Irish ham hocks, lots of fresh veg for stock, and an abundance of peas, nestled in a gentle and translucent onion & garlic base.
But, what for now? Sadly, I have no ham hock or peas so I can’t recreate. I do have some fantastic leftover gammon, savoy cabbage, lentils and lots of vegetables. That sounds like a soup to me! It also sounds comforting and nurturing, which is just perfect for today. And a little naughty with that glint of salty ham. I don’t want to be too good after all! I love that it’s that fabled Irish combination of bacon & cabbage, that we were all raised on, like it or lump it. I lumped it at the time, and hated the sulphurous odours emanating from the kitchen, however, I have matured into a bacon & cabbage loving lass, so bring it on.
So, this really is not posh or glamorous, but it’s good home cooked food. There’s lots of body from the lentils mingling with chunks of ham, ribbons of cabbage, and the occasional sweet carrot. It’s frugal, it’s tasty and I’d wager that it’s healthy. I served it with some home made croutons made with seasoned day old bread fried in oil until crispy. Perfect.
Makes enough for 4. Tuck in!
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 fresh or 2 dried bay leaves
1.5l good stock, ham if you have it, chicken otherwise
300g red lentils
300g chopped cooked gammon (can substitute bacon)
Small head of savoy cabbage (can substitute other greens), shredded
Saute the onion and carrot in olive oil over a medium heat until the onion is translucent.
Add the garlic and saute for a further 30 seconds.
Add the stock, the lentils, bay leaves and the ham. Cook for 15 minutes or so until the lentils are mushy.
Remove the bay leaves and add the cabbage.
Cook for a further 5 minutes until the cabbage is just soft but still a lovely green colour.
Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Serve immediately with good crusty bread or croutons