A hearty, healthy soup that all the family will love - and you can keep it for up to three months frozen, too. Just reheat it when you need a quick supper!
2 tbsp sunflower oil
6 rashers smoked streaky bacon
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
200g (7oz) red lentils
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube
2 tbsps chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crusty bread, to serve
To save time (and washing up), this soup needn't be puréed, but can be left slightly chunky - just make sure it's cooked for long enough, so that the lentils are very tender. If the soup isn't going to be pureed, ensure that both the bacon and onion are finely chopped. To freeze, leave the soup to cool, pack into freezer containers, cover, seal and freeze for up to 3 months. Allow the soup to defrost before reheating.
Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add the bacon, onion and carrots and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 7-10 minutes, or until the bacon has started to turn golden and the vegetables have softened. Add the lentils to the pan and stir well. Add the chopped tomatoes and 1.5 litres (2½ pints) boiling water, and stir in stock cube. Bring to the boil, cover, and then simmer the soup gently for about 1 hour, or until the lentils and vegetables are tender.
Remove the pan from the heat and leave the soup to cool slightly. Purée the soup with the parsley, and add seasoning to taste. If the soup is too thick, a little extra boiling water can be added.
Reheat the soup for serving in mugs, with crusty bread.