Soup is one of our easy meals, it usually takes less than half an hour – an hour at the most – and is a case of chuck it all in a pan (occasionally roasting it first)! This one is a little different though. It’s from the February edition of Olive and it is a bit faffy. Not one to attempt as a first soup recipe or if you’re tight for time! It is delicious though and we will definitely make it again. It probably seemed like more work than it was because we also baked two loaves of bread and made stock from a guinea fowl carcass at the same time – our little kitchen was working hard last night!
The soup itself is a lentil based soup with chunks of roasted butternut squash, chopped, fresh spinach and pine nuts and is flavoured with lemon and cumin. The real star of the show is the dumplings, Bird especially could probably just eat a whole bowl of these! They taste like tabbouleh in dumpling form which can only be a good thing. They are made from finely chopped onion, fresh herbs, cracked bulgar wheat, flour and a tiny bit of suet. Absolutely gorgeous! Fluffy, light and full of flavour, we’ll be making these again to go on lots of different soups.
Firstly cube the butternut squash into small cubes, coat in oil, seasoning and ground cumin and roast in the oven for around half an hour, turning once, until soft and lightly golden around the edges. Put half of this into a clean saucepan along with the lentils, the recipe suggested Puy but we had brown in so we used them. Cover with chicken stock, bring to the boil and then turn down to simmer for around 40 minutes or until the lentils are cooked.
Meanwhile start making the dumplings. Bring a pan of weak chicken stock to a gentle simmer. Mix together equal weights of plain flour and cracked bulgar wheat, half the weight of suet and finely chopped onion along with coarsely chopped fresh parsley, coriander and mint. Season this mixture well and then bring together with cold water to form a dough. Like all dumpling mixtures it will be sticky so keep your hands well floured throughout! Roll the dough into small balls – slightly smaller than a golf ball – and then drop into the simmering stock to poach. You may need to cook these in batches as they need some room to move. They will take around 20 minutes to be perfectly fluffy.
After this time your dumplings should be just about ready and your soup should be too, using a stick blender give the soup a quick whizz up – you don’t want to puree it, you just want to thicken the liquid by breaking down some of the lentils and squash while still leaving most chunky. Then add in the rest of the squash you reserved and a couple of big handfuls of roughly chopped fresh spinach. Let this wilt in then stir in lemon zest and juice and toasted pinenuts. Serve up the soup and top with some pine nuts and the delicious dumplings!
Would we make this again? Probably! It was delicious, but we would save it for a day when we didn’t have quite so much to do at the same time. We’ll also definitely be taking inspiration from it, those dumplings would be delicious in a delicately spiced chicken broth while the addition of toasted pine nuts to soup was a lovely one which we haven’t tried before. If you’ve never checked out Olive then you definitely should, we get tons of inspiration from it and their recipes nearly always work perfectly!