Two-soup Sunday, part two – vegetarian lentil and not-bacon

Soup can be many things: from chunky to smooth, from elegant to “throw it all in and see what happens”, from creamy to spicy, from a delicate starter to a full-on main course. One of soups most important roles is that of a comfort food. As a child, whenever I was ill my Mum would feed me tinned lentil and bacon soup, and no matter what was wrong it would always make me feel better. I’ve now been a vegetarian for a very long time, and while you can get plain lentil soup in a can that is just as comforting (if not more so), I’ve been on a bit of a mission to create a vegetarian version of the meaty kind from my childhood.

The key to this is liquid smoke. It’s quite expensive in the UK, and you have to buy it online, but a little bit goes a long way. It’s probably not going to fool a meat eater, but a hint of smoke in a soup or stew is just enough to trick a vegetarian brain into tasting bacon. Even without the liquid smoke it’s still a tasty soup though, and just as comforting.

Recipe (serves 4-6)

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3-4 medium carrots, grated
  • a couple of cloves of garlic, crushed
  • a good sprig each of rosemary and thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • a pinch of chilli flakes (optional, we put chilli in pretty much everything in the Veg household, whether it’s appropriate or not)
  • 2 cups of split red lentils
  • 7 cups vegetable stock (1.75 litres)
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (or more if you want it, but be careful!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan with the lid on, sweat the onion in the oil over a medium-low heat for up to 10 minutes, without colouring.

Add the carrots, garlic, herbs, cumin, and chilli, and sweat with the lid on for another 5-10 minutes, again without colouring.

Add the lentils and stock, bring to the boil then simmer for a further 20-30 minutes, until the lentils are cooked through and starting to go mushy.

Add the liquid smoke, then check for seasoning. Serve and enjoy!

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7 thoughts on “Two-soup Sunday, part two – vegetarian lentil and not-bacon

  1. Where do you find liquid smoke in the UK? I’ve not seen it anywhere I shop. “Bacony” lentil soup sounds fab!

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