Just in time for winter, former MasterChef contestant Emma Dean has given us a recipe that adds the word ‘hearty’ to this vegetable soup.
200g chestnuts (shell on)
1 large red onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 carrot, finely sliced
1 stick celery, finely sliced
½ leek, finely sliced
3 sage leaves
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig rosemary
80g free range bacon
6 cherry tomatoes, chopped
500g puy lentils
2 litres water, or chicken stock
Handful parsley leaves, chopped to serve
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Score each chestnut with a small knife, place them on a baking tray, and roast for about 15 minutes, until the husks are coming away from the chestnuts.
Heat a large heavy-based saucepan and lightly sauté the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, leek, sage, thyme, rosemary and bacon.
Peel the chestnuts and finely chop two-thirds of them and slice the remaining third to use for topping and set aside. Add the chopped chestnuts to the pan of vegetables.
Add the chopped tomatoes, put lentils and water or stock to the sautéed vegetables, and bring to the boil. Simmer and cook for about an hour until the lentils are soft. If you like the soup thicker, take out a third, blend until smooth, and return to the chunky soup.
Season with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with sliced chestnuts and parsley.
Serve with crusty homemade bread and butter.