|One medium leek trimmed (two if you want the decorative topping)|
|Two medium tomatoes or 1 heaped tablespoon of tomato concentrate|
|300g / 10½oz lentils (we used red lentils but any type of lentils will do)|
|Two garlic cloves|
|1.6l / 2.8 pints vegetable stock|
|Tablespoon of lemon juice|
|1½ teaspoons freshly grated ginger|
|1 teaspoon of medium curry paste (amount dependant on your taste)|
|4 tablespoons of olive oil - use 6 tablespoons if you are using an additional leek for the decorative topping|
|Salt and pepper to taste|
Top and tail the leeks, remove the outer layer and slice finely. Then chop the slices in half (see Cook's Notes above for more information). Now skip to step one of the recipe to fry the leeks and come back here while the leeks are cooking.
Peel the hard skin from the ginger then finely grate.
Peel the tomatoes (see hints and tips above) then remove the majority of seeds and finely chop.
Peel, top and tail and finely chop the garlic cloves.
Recipe by David Marks.
When you slice a leek, each slice tends to remain whole even though it consists of lots of individual rings. To break up the rings simply cut them in half and they will fall apart much more easily. Turning them in the pan will be sufficient to separate the layers.
The base ingredients of this soup are leek and lentils. The lentils thicken the soup, absorb flavours and provide some texture.
The recipe below fries the leeks on a low heat for around 30 minutes. This caramelises them which in turn makes them sweeter. Have a taste of some of the leeks just before you add them to the soup and you will be surprised how sweet they really are.
To peel the tomatoes, nick the skin in a couple of places with a knife, plunge into boiling water for 30 seconds and then into cold water. The skin can then easily be peeled off. If you are in a hurry, forget the tomatoes and add one heaped tablespoon of tomato concentrate to the soup instead.
Read the packet instructions for the lentils and choose ones which can be cooked without soaking. Most varieties nowadays are of this type but still check to make sure.
Pour the olive oil into a frying pan on a low medium heat and then add the sliced leeks. Turn them well so that they are all fully coated with the olive oil. Fry them gently for about 30 minutes until they have turned brown and caramelised as shown in the picture below.
If the leeks haven't caramelised after 30 minutes then turn the heat up a bit and continue to fry until they do caramelise.
Serve your lentil and leek soup in warmed bowls with some crusty bread. If you have caramelised the additional leek, then simply sprinkle a little over the top of each soup.