Friday, October 12, 2012

Lentil and Vegetable Soup

‘This is a food war. Every extra row of vegetables in allotments saves shipping… the battle on the kitchen front cannot be won without help from the kitchen garden." 
~ Lord Woolton, Minister of Food, 1941

Beans, peas, and lentils were a popular choice during rationing because they are super-nutritious, filling, and dead cheap. Despite a fair amount of chopping, this soup came together surprisingly quickly, and was another example of something ridiculously simple that is both delicious and satisfying. Not only that, it's a nutritional powerhouse: it's packed with plenty of vegetables easily grown on allotments and in backyard gardens, gets a nice whack of protein from the lentils, and it's even fat free! (Although I should note that while that last quality is considered a plus here in the 21st century, it may not have seemed like such a great thing back in 1944.)

Keeping in mind that food is a weapon, this recipe is guaranteed to give your family the strength and energy to withstand the day's challenges - and it's a lot more appealing than eating "humble pie under Hitler."

Lentil and Vegetable Soup
~ 2 leeks, chopped
~ 1 large stalk celery, diced
~ 1 large carrot, diced
~ 1 large parsnip, diced
~ 1/2 lb. mushrooms (about 3 cups sliced)
~ 1 bay leaf
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, thyme, rosemary, marjoram
~ 1-2 tsp. Marmite (yes, I am obsessed with the stuff)
~ Fresh black pepper
~ 1 cup lentils, rinsed and picked over (I used red, but any lentils will do)
~ 6-7 cups vegetable stock or water
~ 1 lb. thawed, frozen spinach, or about 4 cups chopped fresh

~ Place the chopped leeks, celery, carrot, and parsnip in a large, deep pot. Add enough of the stock or water to just cover the vegetables. Cover and bring to a gentle boil, and simmer for 5-7 minutes.
~ Add the mushrooms, seasonings, and Marmite, and cook for 5 minutes more.
~ Stir in the lentils, mix to coat them with the seasonings, and pour in the remaining stock. Replace the lid and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook for 20-25 minutes.
~ Remove the bay leaf, add the spinach, and cook another few minutes to wilt the greens. Serve hot.


  1. This was most excellent, delicious, hearty soup. More to the point, that "Food Is Strength" guy looks disturbingly agitated. I'd say he should stay on leave and not go back to the front.

  2. Love the simplicity. Always throwing stuff like this in the slow cooker for the man. Healthy, cheap, delicious.