It’s really cold outside and as I am carrying a few extra pounds I need to eat something healthy, delicious and comforting.  I have to thank my good friend Petra Duguid for this wonderful recipe.  Petra’s a great cook and as many of her recipes are from the US  I have adapted this for the UK.  Please don’t think this is a ‘tree-hugging’ recipe because you will use lentils and split peas.  My family are strictly carnivore but this fabulous vegetarian soup is very popular and absolutely delicious. It’s the combination of the creamy coconut with the spicy curry powder along with the bite of fresh ginger and the coriander.  Try it once and I know you will love it.

Red lentils and yellow split peas are easy to use.  Just remember to rinse and rinse again until the scummy water they give off is gone.

Coconut Red Lentil Soup – serves 6
Ingredients –

200 g yellow split peas
200 g red split lentils
1.6 litres water
1 medium carrot, diced
2 tblsp fresh peeled and grated ginger
2 tblsp medium curry powder
2 tblsp butter
8 spring onions
45 g raisins
80 ml tomato paste
1 x 400ml can of coconut milk (use low-fat if you prefer)
2 tsp sea salt
large handful of fresh coriander

Method –
Place the lentils and split peas into a sieve and run cold water over them for a few minutes.  I then place them in a bowl and fill it carefully with more clean cold water.  If the water is still murky, repeat the sieve/running cold water exercise.
Now put them in a large pan with the 1.6 litres cold water. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the carrot and 1/4 of the grated ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.  The split peas need to be soft.

Whilst the pan is simmering, take a small frying pan and toast the curry powder over a low heat until it gives off a lovely fragrant smell.  Be careful though, you don’t want to burn it. Set aside. Place the butter in a pan over a medium heat and add half the onions, remainder of the ginger and the raisins. Cook for a few minutes whilst stirring then add the tomato paste and stir again.

Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and the salt. Simmer, uncovered for about 20 minutes. The soup will thicken up and if it’s too thick for your liking, add more water.

Ladle into warm bowls and sprinkle over the remaining spring onions and a good scattering of coriander. I eat this with brown bread but you could be really good and eat it with rice or even brown rice !  I sometimes have a little left over and actually, it’s even better on Day 2.

I would love to hear from anyone who would like to make a comment.

Next time – PIGEON



If you have marmalade fans in your family, you simply must make Seville orange marmalade. The flavour, chunkiness of peel and ‘bite’ of the homemade stuff is
just so much better than even the smart brands you can buy in the shops. You will also be a very popular guest if you can bear to give away some of your fabulous marmalade as a hostess present!
Seville is a lovely city to visit and I was lucky enough to have a mini-break there last January. The whole city is full of orange trees groaning under the weight of this strange, knobbly fruit. They are definitely not ‘eaters’ but for a short 2-4 weeks you will find them in Waitrose. Sadly, my local Tesco in Lincoln does not stock them.

Like baking, preserving calls for you to be quite scientific, so use the correct equipment and weigh out the ingredients accurately. It’s very straightforward – for every 2lb of Seville oranges you use, add 1 lemon and 4lb of granulated sugar.

You will need four bits of kit. A preserving pan, squares of muslin, string and a few saucers. Stay with me on this. It’s necessary but easy. In Lincoln, I return to Bigger of Bailgate for the muslin. Contact details below. You can also get this type of kitchen equipment from Lakeland. It’s lovely to use those smart preserving jars but any sterilised, old jam jars will do.

A word on hygiene: you will be making (or giving away) your precious marmalade and expecting it to keep for a year. Therefore, it’s very important to sterilise the jars properly. I put them and the lids through a dish washing cycle and then leave them to cool.

Seville Orange Marmalade

Ingredients to make 6 x 1lb jars –
2 lb Seville oranges
1 lemon
4lb granulated sugar

Method –
Put 4 pints of cold water into the preserving pan. Cut the oranges and lemon in half and squeeze out all of the juice. Add the juice to the water and place the pips and any bits of pith in the centre of a muslin square. The pith and pips contain pectin which is the important ‘setting’ agent.
Cut the orange peel into quarters and then using a very sharp knife, cut the quarters into shreds. This is a very personal thing and all I can say is that if you have particular family requests for ‘shred thickness’, recruit helpers ! If your family love marmalade as much as mine do, you could have batches of thick and thin shreds. Add the orange shreds to the water.
Tie up your muslin square containing the pips and pith with the string to make a little bag. Make a handle with the string so the bag is immersed in the water. Bring the pan slowly up to the boil for about 2 hours until the shreds are completely soft. Now put the saucers in the freezer.
Remove the muslin bag from the pan and set aside. Pour the sugar into the pan and over a low heat, slowly dissolve the crystals. Do not proceed with the next step until the sugar is totally dissolved. Turn up the heat under the pan. Squeeze the muslin bag over the pan with your hands or a spoon against the side so that the sticky, pectin oozes out. Stir into the mixture.
Your pan will now be boiling and as soon as it does, start timing. After 15 minutes, bring out a frozen saucer and put a teaspoon full of mixture on it and place in fridge. When it’s cooled, push the mixture gently with your finger. If it’s set, it will crinkle. If not, continue to boil for another 7-8 minutes and then try again.
When you are happy with the ‘setting’, remove the pan from the heat – there might be a little scum on top of the mixture. You can add a teaspoon of butter to disperse it or carefully skim it off. Then let the mixture settle for 20 minutes.
I now put my clean jars in a moderate oven for 5 minutes to finish off the sterilisation.
Use a ladle or funnel to fill the jars being very careful not to burn yourself. Seal the jars whilst still hot and label when they are cold. Store in a cold and dark place if possible.

At this stage it’s impossible not to feel smug as you admire your beautiful, filled jars. Making marmalade got me into preserving and now I make chutney and jam as well.

Contact details – Bigger of Bailgate, 48 Bailgate, Lincoln LN1 3AP. Tel – 01522 525 536

I would love to hear from anyone who would like to make a comment.