Thursday, May 21, 2009


On Friday I entered the Times online competition 'Recipe Exchange'. I decided to put in an entry that I believe is for the good of all, and having kept it under lock and key for too long is time to spread the love.

This recipe has been in my family since I can remember - I have flashbacks of my fussy childhood of wanting the soup sieved or blended so that any trace of onion could be removed or at least hidden. How wrong and shameful, in hindsight, I was. Mumsoup has always been my immediate thought when its comes to cold winter days, sheer hunger or having had a little too much fun the night before. The effort of making this is a cure in itself, let alone the feeling of intense goodness and comfort that comes from eating it!
Packed full of vegetables and pulses this thick and chunky soup has always been a hit. It is the kind of recipe that you can add to according to season or taste, and take it with you anywhere - after making Mumsoup once or twice the recipe is unforgettable.
The best thing is, you can throw all the ingredients in, and just let it simmer away. In my opinion, the longer it cooks the better it tastes. There is no limit to how much you make either - if there is too much, great! Pop it in an old yogurt pot in the freezer for another day!

1 tbs olive oil
2rashers of smoked bacon
1 large onion, finely chopped (NOT TO BE SIEVED OR LEFT OUT!)
1 potato, peeled and chopped into uneven chunks
3 large carrots, diced
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
200g red lentils
500ml pint of chicken stock (just as good with vegetable stock if vegetarian)
2 bay leaves
Pinch of oregano
Salt and Black pepper.

Chop the rashers of bacon into small pieces and fry in a heavy based saucepan with olive oil until golden brown. Add the onion until soft and lightly coloured. While this is cooking, now is the time to get chopping with the rest of the veg if you haven't done so already. Add the potato and carrot to the bacon mixture and fry until covered in olive oil. This is to pack the vegetables full of flavour.

Add the chopped tomatoes. Do not put the heat up too high - this soup can be cooked for a long time so there is no rush and when the liquids go in everything boils up together.

Scatter the lentils over the vegetables - ideally you should have enough to cover the top of the contents of the pan. I always like more lentils as it gives the soup a softer texture at the end.

Pour over the stock into the pan and stir. The lentils will absorb the stock so don't worry if it looks to juicy at this stage. Throw in the bay leaves and oregano and leave to simmer for about an hour.

If you want to cook this in less time, it can be done. Turn up the heat slightly. I have managed it in half an hour before out of pure desperation, and it was still delicious.

Season before serving. Let the soup cool a little as it can be very hot.

I love this meal eaten with a freshly baked loaf of brown bread, a selection of cheese and always a second helping...


  1. I made your soup, and it was delicious. Keep on the good work.


  2. And by keep on the good work, I of course mean keep up the good work. My revision addled brain is refusing to type proper.

  3. Hello,

    I just thought I'd let you know that I just made Mum soup and it was absolutely scrummy - so delicious! i had been meaning to make it for a while, but i had to go to the international food shop for the lentils. Well, worth the trip- looks like i will be eating soup all week.

    I like the fact that the ingredients aren't obscure and that you don't need a blender - easy for a lazy cook like me.

    Do you have the covent garden soup cookbook? if not, i really recommend it. There is a great courgette and brie recipe, and a moroccan chickpea and spinach one that is delicious.


  4. Lovely recipe, funny I was just thinking about my own mum's soup - what is it about mothers creating the most delicious, soul-warming soups from the most modest of ingredients? Thanks for sharing this recipe :)