Tomato and Red Lentil Soup

With an  Autumnal chill in the air at night and shorter days, the veggie garden is beginning to shut down. Somewhat annoying are the peppers and aubergines which are covered in flowers – I doubt that we’ll ever see the fruit grow but it’s a valiant last effort on their part. So, soup is back on the lunchtime menu and here’s a lovely rich combination of taste and colour.

Tomato & Red Lentil Soup
Tomato & Red Lentil Soup

1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 carrot, sliced
4/5 large ripe tomatoes
1 vegtable stock cube or equivalent
1 cup red lentils
1 tbspn olive oil
up to ½ litre water
Salt & pepper

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil then gently fry the vegetables and garlic for about 5 minutes until softened taking care not to let them brown. Meanwhile, skin and chop the tomatoes and add them to the pan. Rince the lentils and stir them into the vegetables with a stock cube and some  water. The quantity of water required will vary according to how juicy the tomatoes are.

Bring the soup to the boil then simmer on a low heat for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. It’s ready when the carrots are soft. Leave to stand for a few minutes then whizz the mixture to a smooth soup with a blender. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with fresh bread and some grated Comté, Cheddar or parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

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Lavender Meringues

This afternoon I had a few minutes spare to make some Lavender Meringues (see recipe in my post of the 7th May). The flowers are particularly good this year but I might have been a little over zealous adding 4 flower heads as they are a little strong – but perfect for sandwiching together with cream!

Lavender Meringues
Lavender Meringues are light as a feather and nice things to serve with coffee after a meal.

These have turned out a bit brown but others I have made have had a more mauve colour as you’d expect from lavender. Perhaps it depends on the age of the flowers. Delicious whatever the colour.

Recipe – Raspberry & Almond Tart

This is a delicious tart that could be served up any time of year. It’s an idea that came to me when I was trying to think how I could use a bowlful of fresh raspberries and a packet of feuillettée (puff) pastry from the fridge. Although I always make my own shortcrust pastry, having puff pastry to hand means I can always put something together quickly. My favourites are a simple fruit topping on a base of crême fraiche and an egg whisked together with a little sugar and maybe some spice if it’s apple. Alternatively, I make savoury parcels for dinner with a piece of salmon and some spinach, or simply  vegetables in a creamy sauce.  Today, I thought about making a kind of Bakewell Tart using fresh fruit instead of jam but putting the fruit on the top. The result is a gloriously light and colourful dessert which can be served warm or cold and it really doesn’t need anything else other than a glass of chilled white wine.

raspberry and almond tart
Raspberry and Almond Tart

100g margarine

100g caster sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

100g ground almonds

fresh raspberries, (cherries or blackcurrants would do equally well)

some flaked almonds

icing sugar (optional)

Remove the pastry from the fridge and leave to one side to soften. Beat together the margarine and the sugar until light and fluffy then add the eggs a little at a time keeping back a small amount to brush onto the pastry. Gently fold in the ground almonds.

Unroll the pastry onto a large shallow flan tin with a loose bottom. Spread the almond mixture over the base but not going right to the edge. Put the fruit on top, more or less covering the surface and sprinkle with flaked almonds. Taking the edge of the pastry between your fingers, lightly roll it inwards over the edge of the almond mix and brush the folds with the remaining egg. Bake for 30-35mins at 180C until the filling is golden brown.  Sift icing sugar over the flan just before serving.