Towards the end of every retreat there is a heated debate about which menu our guests enjoyed the most during their stay with us. We pride ourselves on our food, home cooked with recipes from Kath and Jane’s repertoire, and served up with help from our kitchen angels who come to help out each day.
We always offer to share a recipe on this blog, so guests can enjoy their favourite dishes again when they go home. This time, on our 31 October-5 November Life Writing retreat at Bosloe, it was a tough choice. Would it be Kath’s stupendous beef Bourgignon, Jane’s spectacular Pavlova, or something else?
In the end the ‘something else’ won. The one favourite everyone could agree on was the lentil and bacon soup (and its veggie version), served up for lunch mid-week. If the words ‘lentil’ and ‘soup’ in the same sentence make you think ‘bland’, think again. This is soup to stand a spoon up in, soup to put hairs on your chest, soup to fortify you for an afternoon of robust writing.
It’s Jane’s favourite of Kath’s soup recipes (we divvy them up between us), a triumph of home-style cooking, and perfect as the autumn days turn to winter. Eat it with crusty bread, ideally by an open fire after a long country walk.
Ladies and gents, we give you…
Kath’s lentil soup
This recipe serves 12.
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 4 onion, diced
- 8 x 70g packs pancetta cubes (leave these out for the veggie version, and add a couple of extra carrots)
- 4 carrots finely diced
- 4 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 4 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 4 chilli, sliced
- 8 low salt vegetable stock cubes
- 1000g red lentils, rinsed
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the onions, half the pancetta (if using) and the carrots. Cook on low to medium heat for 10 minutes until the onions are soft.
- Add cumin, turmeric, garlic and chillies and cook for a further 1 or 2 minutes until the aromas are released.
- Pour in 1.25 litres of boiling water, crumble in the stock cubes and add the lentils. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the lentils aren’t sticking.
- Meanwhile, fry the remaining pancetta in a small frying pan for about 10 minutes until crispy. You don’t need to add any oil as plenty will run from the pancetta
- Serve the soup with the crispy pancetta on top.