Lentil and Chestnut Soup, life updates and some thoughts on ‘Simply Nigella’

Lentil and Chestnut Soup (8822)

These past couple of weeks are turning out to be so weird. What a way to start today’s post, eh? In the spirit of Halloween I am still feeling like a zombie. Sleepy (strong anti-ear infection medication does that to you, trust me) and generally very light-headed. I meant to post a recipe yesterday, but my to-do list went out the window in the afternoon since I didn’t feel well at all. The situation hasn’t improved much. My ear still feels like someone’s lighting a lighter in it and to top it all off I get stabbing pains at intervals, as if someone is literally poking a needle into my eardrum. Not fun. Babies are prone to getting ear infections, I am constantly hearing right now. True. I’m not a baby but I still feel miserable. Poor things (little ones not me), no wonder they constantly cry in pain.

Let’s move on to the more cheerful things, shall we? I have two pieces of good news. I have my new desk! I am so pleased with it. I almost couldn’t believe it was here while watching J and his dad assembling it in the study. I am really enjoying working in this room even more. It’s my haven. Nearer completion we plan to purchase a comfortable reading chair to place next to the window. Can’t wait. The second piece of news is that I am waiting for a number of cookbooks to arrive, all of which are for review. I’ll be happy if they all make the cut, so we’ll see.

Speaking of books, last month saw the much anticipated release of Simply Nigella. I’ve noticed that the top searches for recipes on C&T this week are either for Nigella’s or for Signe Johansen’s. No surprise there. My copy of the book is in London, which I’ll be collecting very soon. I only saw the jacket and was looking forward to reading the contents, until I saw the first episode of the show. Now now, I hear you say, what’s that? I like the ‘new’ Nigella paired down look. No heels or glamorous outfits. Black leggings, clean white shirts and those famous black “swoosh” trainers work fine. That casual up-do, or whatever you call it (I’m no expert – my hair is short) looks good on you Nigella.

The first set of recipes, well, let’s say the avocado on toast bit is what I do sometimes, not you. You are a cooking guru, for chrissakes! I get the ‘Simple’ bit but still.

I’ll stop here, just in case she was thinking to give me a ring for an interview of some sorts. As for the apricot and almond cake…now you’re talking. From a huge fan, much love.

As for this recipe, yes, it’s a Nigella one. From a much better book. In fact, from arguably her best and first: the one and only How To Eat. It’s a masterpiece. I love it. I use it again and again, especially for reference. The writing is simple (nothing too poetic and over the top in there) and it’s the Nigella I want to know again. She recreated the style in Kitchen, my signed copy is one of my treasures.

I have fond memories of this recipe. I remember watching her making this soup on tv, I think it was filmed for a Christmas episode for Nigella Bites or Feast, I’m not sure. When I found it in How To Eat I ran home and made it. It’s perfect for this time of year. One thing I changed from the original is the part where you add the lentils. I usually cook them in a different pan, just because I want to make sure I wash them well under cold water and let them simmer to remove any toxins. I don’t mind them turning into a mush for this. They will be blended eventually anyway. This method is somewhat old-school I know, but it works for me. As always, give me a shout if you try it. Lentils and chestnuts make a great combo. Good luck!

  • 225g lentils, thoroughly rinsed under cold water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon regular olive oil
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 leek, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 – 2 litres vegetable stock
  • 225g vacuum packed cooked chestnuts
  • fresh parsley, for sprinkling on top of each serving

Wash the lentils thoroughly and cook according to the packet instructions. Typically you need 30 to 40 minutes of cooking time. Drain and set aside.

Heat the butter and oil in a heavy-based pan and add all the chopped vegetables. Let them sweat until they are soft. Add the chestnuts and let everything cook for around 20 minutes, or until the chestnuts are soft enough to be blended. Add the cooked lentils and stock in the pan and bring the whole lot to a simmer.

Take the pan off the heat and blend or blitz the soup until you have a smooth silky mixture.

Pour into bowls and sprinkle each serving with fresh chopped parsley.

You should have enough to feed 4 – 6 people.


(Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How To Eat, Chatto & Windus, 1998.)

One year ago: Easy Noodle Soup

Two years ago: Chilli Brownies

Three years ago: Giorgio Locatelli’s Made in Sicily

Four years ago: Pasties

(This post is *not* sponsored.)


12 thoughts on “Lentil and Chestnut Soup, life updates and some thoughts on ‘Simply Nigella’”

  1. I love that you love Nigella! Is that weird? She was actually one of the reasons I started cooking. I loved the way she talked about food. It made it all so intriguing to me. I would not be thrown back by avocado on toast, lol. Hey sometimes simple is the best. Of course, I also justify my love of canned peas because of Nigella, because if she can admit to it, then it must be ok! Sorry you are still not feeling well. 😦

    1. Hi Sadie, it’s not at all wierd! She was my inspiration to start cooking too! We have another thing in common! I have all her books and will never stop purchasing her books. I just thought that toast, with or without avocado, is too simple. That is something I would write about, the toast I mean, just because I don’t consider myself an expert. Whereas Nigella, though being a cook and not a chef, is. That’s one of the reasons I like her! Like doesn’t begin to describe it actually. I’m such a huge huge fan!

      1. I don’t have all of her books, yet:) But I have quite a few, and I love them too! Wouldn’t it be fun to go to one if her dinner parties?! I don’t know if it’s her twinkle lights, or occasional red accents but she makes most every meal seem like a holiday. And I do get the toast thing (from your point of view). It must be a fad, because I’ve seen them on the Pioneer Woman’s blog, and a one of my newer (can I say that if it’s a year old?) cookbooks, with avocado none-the-less.

      2. That’s why I really don’t like trends in food re: avocados. Now I love avocados and when I’m alone for lunch one of my favourite things to eat is mashed up avocados with chorizo, salt and pepper and an egg! And yes I would love to go to one of Nigella’s dinner parties!! I would also like to be invited to Ree’s house. That’s the Pioneer Woman’s name, right? She’s an amazing lady and I love her recipes and blog in general. Actually I miss her posts on beauty and fashion. I remember reading on how she stores her beauty supplies. Such a fun post!

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