Warm Puy Lentil and Beetroot Salad with Balsamic Leeks

Sophie Wright’s Leek, Parsnip and Chestnut Soup

I’m a real soup lover and none are complete without the addition of leeks. However, rather than just using leeks as a background flavour, I really want to bring it to life, and pair it with ingredients it really loves. Parsnips have a natural sweetness that work perfectly with the mellow flavour of leeks and chestnuts add a creaminess that nothing else will. This is the perfect winter soup that will keep you feeling warm and full all through the day.

Serves 4-6
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

2 tbsp rapeseed oil
25g butter
2 large leeks, sliced and washed including most of the green part
1 stick celery
1 white onion
2 springs fresh thyme, leaves only, plus a few for garnish
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 parsnips, peeled, cored and chopped finely
75g cooked chestnuts, plus a few extra for garnish
1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper

Directions

1. Add the oil and the butter to a large pan and turn the heat to medium. Add in the leeks, celery and onion along with the thyme leaves and the peeled garlic. Season with salt and pepper and place a lid on and allow the vegetables to sweat for 10 minutes, stirring a few times in between.

2. Now add the chopped parsnips and the chestnuts along with the stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the parsnips are tender. Make sure the vegetable are completely covered with stock, if not; add a little more as it depends on the size of your pan.

3. After about 20 minutes all the vegetables should be nice and tender.

4. Turn off the heat and blend either in a liquidiser or with a handheld blender. Never over fill your liquidiser so do this in batches and I would recommend leaving the soup to cool slightly before doing this.

5. Blend until completely smooth before returning to the pan and reheating. You can add a little more stock if you feel the mix is too thick.

6. Season with a little more pepper before serving with a few more chopped chestnuts and a few fresh thyme leaves.

Chef’s tip: dress soup with a drizzle of oil for a tasty finishing touch.