Lentil, barley, and rice soup

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Kelda Hains described this soup as the sort of recipe you keep tucked away for times when the cupboard is almost bare but you are in need of something nourishing and substantial. From a cup of lentils, a couple of tablespoons of rice and barley, plus the usual suspects of onion, carrot, and celery, comes a soup that makes you pause after the first spoonful to either pat yourself on the back for making it or compliment the cook on their truly good work.

Lentil, barley, and rice soup (Lois Daish, Listener, April 29, 2006, p.61)

8 cups (2 litres) of light beef or chicken stock or water (I used water)

1 heaped teaspoon tomato paste

3/4 cup red lentils

2 tablespoons arborio or other short-grain rice

2 tablespoons pearl barley

3 tablespoons oil

3 carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

4 celery stalks, thinly sliced

2 onions, quartered and thinly sliced

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, or more to taste (will be much tastier if you toast whole cumin seeds in a dry frying pan and then grind them in a mortar and pestle)

freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste

Put the stock or water into a large saucepan, bring to the boil and add the tomato paste, lentils, barley and rice. Bring back the boil and then lower the heat and simmer while you prepare the vegetables.

Put the oil in a large frying pan and add the carrots, celery and onions. Season with salt and pepper and gently fry until the onion starts to soften. Sprinkle with the cumin and transfer the contents of the frying pan to the saucepan of soup. Continue to simmer the soup until the grains and vegetables are very tender – about 45 minutes. Add more water to the soup if it is very thick. Taste the soup and add more salt, pepper and cumin if needed and squeeze in enough fresh lemon juice to add a delicate tang.