A comforting soup from blogger and food photographer Béatrice Peltre. "Your soup has a ton of character!" my father exclaimed while eating quickly, as he always does. My parents were visiting us for two weeks — it was February in Boston. Winter. We could feel the wind and snow falling outside. And it was exactly the kind of rustic food that we felt like eating for dinner. Perfect with a loaf of crusty country bread on the side, and even some grated cheese if we felt like it."
2 tbsp olive oil
2 thyme twigs
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 large shallot, chopped
1 large leek, white part only, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
24 thin slices of spicy chorizo
2 large tomatoes, blanched, peeled, cored, seeded, and diced
1 tbsp double-concentrated tomato paste
2 cups white lentils, rinsed and sorted
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup peeled and diced butternut squash or kabocha squash
4 cups chicken stock or homemade vegetable broth
4 cups cold water
1/4 tsp saffron threads
2 bay leaves
3 cilantro stems with leaves, plus more leaves to serve
Sea salt and pepper
Pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
6 extra-fresh large eggs
Crème fraîche, to serve
Ground paprika, to serve
Step 1: In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the thyme, cumin, turmeric, shallot, leek and celery and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, without browning, until fragrant and the vegetables start to soften.
Step 2: Add the slices of chorizo and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the lentils, carrots and squash and cook for 1 minute, then add the stock, water, saffron, bay leaves and cilantro stems. Cover and simmer the soup for 25 minutes, or until all the vegetables and the lentils are fork-tender.
Step 3: Discard the thyme and bay leaves and keep warm on the stove while you prepare the eggs.
Step 4: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous pinch of sea salt and the vinegar. Bring to a simmer. Break 1 egg into a small cup and carefully transfer the egg in the simmering water. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the egg white is set but the yolk is still runny. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel. Repeat with the other eggs.
Step 5: To serve, ladle the soup into deep bowls, sprinkle with the cilantro leaves, and add a heaping tbsp of crème fraîche to each. Top each bowl with a poached egg and a dash of paprika.
See more recipes by Béatrice Peltre.
Reprinted with permission from Béatrice Peltre's La Tartine Gourmande (2012 Roost Books).