Pulses make just the sort of starchy, comforting bowls of broth we need to survive the cold snaps of February, and none more so than red, split lentils.
Their obliging habit of disintegrating into a soup and providing it with backbone and breadth make them a boon companion for the cook, and a friend for parents - I have found there are few children who will refuse a bowl of lentil soup.
I came up with this recipe partly as a homage to my mother's excellent lentil soup, but in the process borrowed from Kealy's Seafood Restaurant, way up there on the Fahan peninsula in Donegal, the idea of matching the lentils with carrots. If the soup suits the lazy winds up there - lazy because they blow through you, rather than around you - it also suits the lazy cook. There is almost no work involved in making this, and from start to finish you can have it in half an hour.
Simple Lentil Soup
125g red split lentils 200g carrots 150g onions 800ml/1 1/2 pints chicken stock, preheated 1 tablespoon olive oil Sea salt Freshly cracked pepper Peel the carrots and cut them into large pieces. Peel the onions and cut them into quarters. Buzz the two together in a food processor until finely shredded - the mix should look not unlike the red, split lentils themselves. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat, and saute the onion-andcarrot mix for two minutes. Add the lentils, stir to mix, and fry for a further minute. Add the heated stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a lively simmer and cover.
Cook for 15 minutes, then check the soup. The lentils should have broken down, but you may find they need a further five minutes to achieve that state. When the soup is ready, season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. If you wish to make a smooth soup, then puree the soup in a food processor.
Serve with a spoonful of yogurt in the centre of the dish, and some finely chopped parsley. You may also like to drizzle over some good olive oil, or even some flavoured oil.