Now that Autumn is officially here, it’s high time for a hearty soup! Mushroom soup is delish, but sometimes recipes rely on heavy cream to make it particularly tasty, or else it can be a bit watery in viscosity – resulting in a less than pleased eater (me), and an unamused tummy!
Lentils are a staple to any plant-based eater, veggie, or cash-strapped diet. They are incredibly rich sources of unsaturated protein, minerals and vitamins, which I scrawl a bit more about here. As the weather begins to turn for shorter days and more unpredictable weather (it is hurricane season after all), our diets tend to be based largely in ingredients that can be described as comforting, which can glean bone-warming, stodgy dishes. The downside of which may be that they err slightly on the unhealthy scale.
Lentils can however get a bad rep sometimes for being cloying in texture, and somewhat disintegrating to unidentifiable shapes in dishes. In soup however, they add a wondrous body and turn a broth into a meal. The key is to use enough liquid to thin the soup, along with blending the end mix to a finished result that lies somewhere between chunky and slick.
However lentils and mushrooms only provide too earthy and similar a taste and texture to the soup (not to mention colour).
Which is why some toasted hazelnuts are the perfect antidote to an otherwise fawn coloured mishap. The addition of these heart-healthy and brain-boosting nuts give a delicious texture and flavour to the soup.
What more do you need eh? Recipe & ingredients are below.
Incase no one realised the earlier hyperbole, I’m living within a pretty temperate yet damp climate (hello NW Ireland) so no immediate threat of hurricanes, however if you need a reason to tuck into hearty soups before the torrential chill of winter hits (I’m estimating a fortnight) it sure works!
-1x 400g tin green lentils, cooked, drained.
-12x large flat cap mushroom (portobello)
-1x small punnet closed cup button mushrooms
-200g whole hazelnuts, blanched.
-half pack fresh thyme, removed from stalks
-1x vegetable stock cube, or 1.5 litres of fresh vegetable stock
-1.5 litres boiling water
-1x garlic clove
1.Wipe any dirt from mushrooms with a damp paper towel or clean cloth.
2. Slice small mushrooms into quarters, and larger mushrooms into thin strips, and then in half.
3. Dice the onion, grate the garlic (if you don’t have a garlic crusher!).
4. On a dry frying pan, toast the hazelnuts, moving often as they burn quickly. Remove from heat when lightly coloured, you’ll know they’re ready by the enticing aroma wafting from the pan.
5.Boil the kettle!
6. Add 1 tsp. of Rapeseed oil ( or an oil of your choice) to a pot, heat and add onions – soften on a low/medium heat for ten minutes, stirring every couple of minutes. The idea here is not to colour, but to soften the onions, releasing more flavour. (The natural sweetness of the onions will be crucial to the overall base of flavour for the soup.)
7. Once semi-translucent, add in all the mushrooms, and put the lid on your saucepan. Stir every ¾ minutes over a low heat again – allow 10-15 minutes for this so that the mushrooms cook slowly, and as there is quite a large quantity of them, it will take this time to evenly cook them all. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP, it is crucial for giving the body of flavour to the soup.
8. Add in the grated garlic, and cook for 3-4 minutes.
9. Add in the crumbled vegetable stock and water, stir and leave on a medium heat to barely simmer for 20 minutes.
10. After 10 minutes, add in the thyme, hazelnuts and drained lentils.
11. Add in a generous crack of black pepper, and if needed a tiny pinch of salt.
12. Blend the soup – it should be semi-chunky – the hazelnuts will add this texture to the soup.
13. Add in a couple of drops of nut milk to make it creamier and voila!
A meal in a bowl!
Other uses for this recipe:
Use a little less liquid to make a mushroom, hazelnut lentil puree – this can be used for a sauce or dip for other recipes.
Use this with fresh pasta and crumble some feta or ricotta over it and some greens for a delish dinner!
Or if you’re on a lower-carb diet, supplement pasta for vegetable noodles or pasta.
If you have a nut allergy – use other milks and omit the hazelnuts. Add in cooked petit pois after blending for some sweetness, and variety in textures.
Dice one small apple and add when sauteeing the mushrooms – this will add a sharpness and sweetness to the soup.
Top with some croutons, a drizzle of harissa, sprouts, crispy red onions, or some vegetable crips, or serve with a hearty slice of wholegrain or sourdough bread.
What do you guys think? My parent’s probably wouldn’t be too enthused with the idea of soup for dinner but I think this recipe might just convince them.