It has officially arrived. The first day of fall ushered in with a brisk breeze, light rain and low temperatures. We’ve been anticipating the onset of autumn and all it has to offer for weeks now, gathering our wool sweaters, long pants and heavy socks for a day just like this. Prepared for hikes with my family and time spent inside with the windows pushed open to let the air carry inside. And although we are sure to have a few warm days left, we are embracing fall and looking ahead. And letting go.
These are the moments. The ones we look forward to during the spike of summer’s heat and embrace upon first glance of nature’s rebirth. Autumn has a way about her. She shows herself in all her glory. The magic is seen in the colours and fragrances when we walk through the paths cluttered with fallen, torn leaves. And she comforts us with memories of summer past and the warm solitude of home.
Autumn is busy for us. We tend to get out and enjoy nature before winter pushes through. Our schedule is filled with shoots and the last remaining weddings for the season, plus meetings and client appointments eager to book for next year. It seems our time is limited and the time available to us precious, so when we do have time to ourselves it is often spent inside with the fireplace and healthy comfort food. And lots of rustic, hearty soups.
Today when I mentioned to the Mrs. that it was officially the first day of fall she suggested it would be a great day spent indoors to combat that cold at our doorstep. I figured it would be the perfect time to put some soup on the stove, something we could enjoy for lunch and dinner. And it wasn’t long after the pot hit the stove that the aroma took took hold of the house. It was the first in a line of familiar scents for fall.
Today was day one. And just the beginning. But we’re ready and anticipating a wonderful season ahead. With some farms and pick-you-own apple and pear orchards open, horse rides in the country and new produce at the market, we have so much to be thankful for and so much to embrace. Like a good book, warm cup of tea and endless possibilities ahead.
From my kitchen to yours,
Lentil Soup with Crisp Pancetta
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
- 2 heirloom carrots, roughly chopped (any carrots will do)
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 1/2 litres chicken stock
- 1/2 litre water
- 2 cups green lentils
- 1/2 cup pancetta, sliced
- bouquet garni (3 parsley sprigs, 8 thyme sprigs, 2 bay leaves tied together with kitchen string)
- kosher salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
- Rinse the lentils and enough water to cover them. Let them soak for about 4 hours.
- In a large pot heat the olive oil. Add the garlic, onion, celery and carrots and stir until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add in the tomato paste and paprika and season to taste. Let cook for a further minute.
- Add the chicken stock, water, lentils and the bouquet garni and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover the pot and let the lentils cook for 45 minutes, or until tender. Adjust seasoning.
- Discard the bouquet garni. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat and add the pancetta, cooking until golden, roughly 3-4 minutes.
- Ladle soup into bowls and top with pancetta.
- Serves 6-8.