Spicy Lentil soup and Pear Cake


We have a good crop of apples and pears.

They’re from the trees my father, Jim, planted twenty five years ago.

He died in 2010 but his small orchard continues to produce fruit – even though it hasn’t been terribly well looked after!

Does anyone else find pruning hard even though they’ve supposedly been taught how?

Anyway Dad obviously chose a range of earlies, mid season and late croppers to lengthen the season and we have some wonderful varieties like Sturmer Pippin, Worcester Pearmain, James Grieve, Katie and the ubiquitous Bramley.

Some like Fiesta can last until next spring without spoiling if they are stored properly.

An enjoyable annual visit

The pears are more difficult and tend to need eating straightaway.

They mature from the inside – so you often find the fruit is firmer when you first bite into it and become softer towards the core.

I made this upside down pear cake based onĀ this recipe by Kate Ford for a group who visited on Monday from nearby Lingwood Care Farm.

I enjoyed their visit so much I forgot to take photos.

Suffice to say all we had tea and cake.

We then picked up windfalls in the orchard – the bruised ones were put in a separate bag and will be fed to their pigs.

I used freshly milled chia seeds with water as an egg replacement as suggested (I ground them in the small coffee grinder I have).

I used four smallish pears quartered, cored and sliced instead of the plums in the recipe but otherwise it exactly the same.

Do check the margarine you use is vegan – I’ve been caught out.

It said “made from plants” on the tub of Flora I was using BUT on closer inspection, in tiny writing on the back, it said “contains milk and buttermilk”.


Other fruit needs to be picked

This weekend I picked about 10 kilos of damson plums just in the nick of time and froze them.

Many had a started going mouldy on the tree or had fallen onto the grass below!

It’s easy to get distracted by other things and end up wasting the gorgeous fruit.

It’s good stewed in the winter or drowned in vodka or gin to make a ruby red liqueur.

Last year’s Damson Vodka. You can see on the green jar I put 130g sugar in the bottom before covering the fruit with alcohol and leaving for a few months.

Planting out winter veg

I have been clearing some old spent plants to make way for oriental mustards, mizuna, mibuna and pak choi (I’ll be interested to see if they and the lettuce can be cropped throughout most of the winter if I protect them with heavier 30g fleece).

So all bar one of the courgette plants are now on the new compost heap.

The last one has produced a couple of nice “zucchini” which I used in a lentil soup with potato and some of the wonderfully fragrant Lemon Drop and Cayenne chillies I’ve grown.

Lemon Drop peppers from Peru have a wonderful citrus flavour
5 from 1 vote
Spicy Courgette and Lentil Soup
Author: Cath
  • 150 g dried split red lentils
  • 2 courgettes or zucchini (about 350g)
  • 2 potatoes (about 200g)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 or 3 chillies (I used red Cayenne and yellow Lemon Drop)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
  • 1.5 litres vegetable stock (I use Marigold Bouillon)
  1. Cook the red split lentils in about twice the volume of water until soft. Make sure you skim off the white froth with a big metal spoon. This usually takes bout 15 minutes.

  2. Finely chop onion, garlic and chillies (I remove most of the seeds as it then becomes too spicy for my Mum to eat)

  3. Fry them in a large saucepan in 2 tbsp olive oil over a fairly high heat until fragrant

  4. Add diced potatoes and courgettes (I leaves skins on my potatoes as they are really sound and unblemished) and cook for another couple of minutes stirring to make sure they don't catch on the bottom of the pan

  5. Add cooked lentils and vegetable stock to cover (I said 1.5 litres in the ingredients but would use less or more as you see fit) and simmer with lid on for half an hour

  6. Check vegetables are soft and mash by hand with a potato masher for a rough rustic blend or with a hand stick blender for a smoother soup

  7. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander leaves. 

  8. If you didn't have the Lemon Drop chillies use ordinary red ones and add a little finely zested lemon rind or a squeeze of lemon juice to really make this soup sparkle.

    Season to taste