Hearty Lentil and Bacon Soup serves four

5 mins to prepare, 45 mins to cook / 230 calories per serving

Ingredients

  • 6 pieces Cookstown smoked bacon, rind trimmed off
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Tesco NI carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 150g (5oz) red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 litre (1¾ pints) vegetable stock
  • Wholemeal or crusty bread, to serve

This wonderful, comforting soup is packed with smoky bacon and creamy red lentils. Enjoy with a thick slice of wholemeal bread for a warming winter meal. 

Cut the trimmed bacon into 2cm pieces. Put the olive oil in a large saucepan set over a low-medium heat and add the bacon, onion, carrot and celery. Cook gently for 10 minutes, until soft and sweet. Stir in the garlic and cook for 5 minutes more.

Add the red lentils, followed by the tinned tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat slightly. Cover with a lid and leave the soup to simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are very soft and the soup has thickened. If it looks too thick or starts to catch on the base, add a little water. Season to taste, remembering the bacon and stock are already quite salty. At this stage you can liquidise the soup, if you like, or leave it chunky.

Serve with bread.

Cook’s tip: For a tasty garnish, reserve some of the chopped bacon. Fry in a little oil until crispy and then sprinkle on top of each bowlful.