I promise this is the last bit of saffron I am going to sprinkle on here for a good while. I just cannot resist the stuff, especially on days like today, when it is supposedly the first day of summer, and it is windy, miserable and lashing down like it hasn't done in a while. Every thundering cloud will hopefully conceal a dry lining, for tomorrow it is Bon Jovi day and, quite frankly, I would hope to avoid a 6-hour lash-down on a football pitch, unless they throw in the man himself for good measure. Tonight, as I was busy knitting and yet was hungry, I pulled out an old stand-by of mine, a saffron soup that can be whipped out in no time at all and requires zero cooking per se. And if Delia and Nigella have done the cheating (and who cares if they got stick from Gordon Fucking Ramsey?), I don't see why I cannot do the same.
2 liters vegetable stock (I usually make mine, but tonight I threw a stock cube into boiling water)
4 mini onions
200g of dried legumes (mix I get from Julian Graves)
2 cans of tomatoes, whole
50g red lentils
saffron (strands or powder)
sea salt to taste
French mustard for serving
Serves 4 to 6
Prepare the vegetable stock the express way, by boiling the kettle and dissolving a stock cube or stock grains in it. Put the pan on high on the stove and proceed to adding the peeled little onions, the two cans of tomatoes (whole, they will break down while cooking), the dried legumes, sea salt to taste (make it two tablespoons with this much water) and saffron (I used one sachet this time).
Bring to the boil and let it boil for ten minutes before adding the red lentils. Now lower the heat to medium and get on with whatever you want to do because this will need to bubble away for approximately 35 minutes from now.
Once you're ready to eat, serve the soup in your bowl and top with a small amount of French mustard. This may be an usual combination, but I can assure you that the delicate saffron and the wallpaper-stripping quality of French mustard go really well together. In fact, my mouth is watering as I type. And of course lay off the mustard for those who are not used to it or do not like it (honestly... are there such people?).
The beauty of this soup also lies in its colour and texture. The soft, broken down tomatoes, the still detectable legumes, the sweet onions make for a varied sensory experience which you do not get when you whizz everything in a blender.