Well thank goodness, the worst month of the year has finally got the juice-dieting, hot yoga dripping message and buggered off until it rears its ugly, 31-day-long head again next year. I mean really, I don’t like to moan (much), but what is it about this month that makes it so damn anti-social? Detox’s that lead to retox’s of epic proportions, everyone from Primark to Prada flashing their best neon sports bras, kale, quinoa, more kale...
Any time of year that spells a month long battle to surgically remove the pine needles somehow ingrained into the carpet in the corner of the living room that once proudly housed glistening parcels and twinkling fairy lights, has just a little too much cheek for my liking. Add the inevitable post-Mulled Wine/Mince pie/Monopoly/General Festive comedown to the veganism, circuit training, alcohol-free ridiculousness of the other miseries that we force upon ourselves at this time, and you have a severe and unavoidable case of January Blues on your hands before Jools Holland has even kicked off the first verse of Auld Lang Syne.
Slime hued juices with the unmistakable odour of a vegetarian cafe’s compost bin, gyms so busy that the most exercise you get is squeezing your Christmas curves into your spandex leggings, and most of all, bloody resolutions. Promises that the pile of leftover Quality Street and Chocolate Orange in the corner of the lounge are sure to quash before the calendar has even been taken out of its plastic wrapping; leading not to the slender thighs or Gweneth Paltrow abs that you were imaging, but to more guilt than written on the smiling face of a Justin Beiber mug-shot.
Ah, yes, guilt; it catches up with us all. I mean, there is only so long I can live on Celebrations and Prosecco before people start to gossip...
So, while everyone else is gorging on baby spinach and pretending they don’t wish their pint of water was a pint of Gin, there is something about soup that makes me feel slightly less rebellious. And this vitamin packed beauty is so far from naughty that it’s almost frustratingly angelic; think the wondrously wholesome, knicker-knitting, wood-whittling Kisrtie Allsopp of the soup world, just slightly less irritating and not nearly as posh.
Crammed with loads of delicious veggies, bursting with just enough sunny lemon flavours to clear that miserable sky and zinging with the gentle hum of fennel and caraway; this is soup with super written all over it. Add the subtle crunch of super-trendy, mega good for you quinoa, soft lentils and the amazing, fresh aroma of Rosemary and you have a meal on your hands that will make your 2014 instantly better. Particularly if you cancel out all that goodness with a large serving of something wonderfully naughty for afters. Its all about the balance, after all...
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 sticks of celery, diced
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
1/2tsp garam marsala
1 courgette, diced
1ltr hot chicken or vegetable stock
60g red lentils
½ savoy cabbage, shredded
A good pinch of dried or fresh rosemary
In a large saucepan, gently fry the onion, garlic, celery and carrot in a little olive oil until the onion is translucent and everything is starting to soften
Add the spices and courgette and fry, stirring, for another 3 minutes
Add the hot stock, a couple of lemon wedges, lentils and quinoa and simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes
Stir in the cabbage and cook for another 5-10 minutes or until everything is cooked through and the soup is thick
Squeeze in the remaining lemon and season well. Serve with sourdough toast and remember to wear your halo...