Wednesday, October 15, 2008

One for the fluffy bunnies.....

A heartwarming, deepdown, soul hugger of a little soup. One for cold days, one for rain streaked windows. One for wind, and wet. Cook for someone you love. It's that kind of soup.

Puy lentil soup, straight out of the North of Italy. This one is lifted and slightly adapted from Giorgio Locatelli (the pheasant ravioli video is fantastic), and his Made in Italy (free recipes at this link) book. A damned fine read, filled with dodgy measures, and irrepressible vitality. Food as Art.

This is a soup I make entirely by eye. Quantites will be artistic. Tasting is the thing.

For the lentils. Using dried puy lentils (I find a generous helping of circe 250g gives enough for three people), bring them, unsalted, to the boil, and simmer for 45 minutes.

For your soffrito, the base of the soup, you will need one large carrot, finely diced. One medium to large onion, similarly cut. two sticks of celery pulled as freshly from the earth as you can. Or in my cases, heroically hacked from the shelves of Dunnes. Sliced. Two or three bay leaves. Pick up a plant and go fresh with them. They underpin the entire taste of the thing. They give that generous and giving warmth of taste so lacking without the pancetta. Two sprigs of rosemary. Butter. Oil. Heat the oil, and gently sweat the vegetables, stirring in the herbs. You want to soften and sweeten them, with no salt or pepper. At this stage their beauty is nothing other than themselves. I take about 15-20 minutes for this stage. (The omnivorous amonsgt us could add some cubed pancetta here, for a heavenly fix).

After 45 minutes, your lentils should be nearly out of water. Add them (with the water if you wish) to the soffrito, and pop in some warm water, and two peeled, lightly crushed hefty, glorious and ample cloves of garlic. More if they are not ample.

Add salt (if you are not using pancetta), and black pepper, and a dollop of extra virgin olive oil. The salt is, I think, essential at this stage, allowing each flavour to interpenetrate. Simmer gently, adding water if necessary, for a good twenty minutes. More if you can, stirring, and tasting. At the end, season to taste, and blitz to your desired texture, adjusting thickness as you please - as you can probably see, I adore a generopusly gloopy bowl of earthy deliciousness. Sprinkle with chopped Rosemary for the scent. Drizzle with a little olive oil to lift. Eh voila.

A thing of beauty, and a joy for dinner.


Deborah said...

This looks lovely! I have some puy lentils in the pantry, now I know what to do with them! :)

I loved your writing throughout this... very Nigella!

Abulafia said...

Thanks Deborah. This is a damned fine way to dispose of them.

Theres also a recipe somewhere for zampone - in some versions pigs trotters filled with lentils and roasted with herbs.

Could be good, no?