I love to cook. All my life I’ve been surrounded by people who can make very good food: both grannies, and my mum, are casually dedicated to home made (homegrown, in my maternal Granny’s case) meals, full of flavour and nutrition. My mum’s mum, who up until last year grew rigs of fresh vegetables, makes a mean barley soup, always with a sprinkling of parsley from her garden.
The woman who was my step-mum for many years is a chef, though she never cooked in a flashy way, just a good way. I had an aunt who was a culinary master, her kitchen walls lined with recipe books and food magazines. Everywhere she travelled she’d bring home spices, her regular trips to St Lucia yielding whole mace covered nutmegs, cinnamon sticks and cloves from the markets.
These people helped forge in me a love for food, and for the joy that comes with cooking and sharing meals with people. Also, I really love to eat, so it’s a win-win.
I LOVE soup. It’s so easy, plus it’s warming and comforting and usually healthy, and often you can concoct a quick lunch from whatever is lying about in your cupboards.
This is one of those recipes. I first had this soup in a cafe I used to work in as a teenager, sadly now closed, and loved it. It’s hearty, earthy and tangy, so perfect for January and days that you’re trying to eat a bit more healthily, the apricots adding a bit of sweetness to (maybe?!) curb any sugary cravings.
I can’t remember if I actually got a recipe, or just guessed at it, but this is my version.
Armenian Lentil and Apricot Soup
1 x tbsp oil of choice (I used olive oil)
1 x onion, chopped
1 x clove garlic, crushed
1-2 carrots, chopped
1 x cup red lentils
1.5 litre vegetable stock
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped (or buy chopped, because who has time for that)
- Fry the chopped onions and carrot in the oil on a medium heat for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and continue cooking a minute or so longer, taking care not to burn the garlic.
- Meanwhile, boil the kettle for your stock.
- Add the lentils and the cumin to the pot and stir for 30 seconds or so, then add the stock, followed by the apricots.
- Stir and bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer for around 30 minutes, until the carrots are tender and the lentils cooked. Stir regularly and watch out for the lentils sticking to the bottom of the pan – I find the heat needs to be lower than you’d expect.
- Blend with a stick blender – you might need to add a bit more water depending on how thick you want it.
- Serve with a sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley, or coriander.