Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid's Two Lentil Stew
Simon Hopkinson's Creamed Tomatoes on Toast

Sophie Grigson's Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Soup with Mint


With 3 minutes remaining in this day, this one must be short and sweet. Perhaps I'll even attempt a poem. I warn you, it's going to get ugly.

Sweet potato, cubed
star anise and onions, sweating
magic wand liquidizes
turns to orange velvet
what was once hard as stone


Never mind, that's bad. The soup, though, very nice. Especially the mint and yogurt on top. Makes the whole thing sing.

One minute left! Done.

Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Soup with Mint
Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/4 lbs sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 whole star anise
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup red lentils
2 3/4 pints water or vegetable stock
Juice of 2 limes
Salt and pepper
Greek yogurt or sour cream
Leaves from 5 sprigs of fresh mint, sliced

1. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, and add the onions, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Do not allow to brown. 

2. Stir in the sweet potato and star anise, reduce heat to low and cover tightly, leaving to sweat for 10 minutes. Then add the tomato paste, cinnamon, lentils and water or stock. Bring up to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils and sweet potato are very tender, about 30-35 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Remove the star anise, then liquidize the soup with an immersion blender. Stir in the lime juice and taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Spoon into bowls, topping each with a spoonful of yogurt or sour cream and some sliced mint leaves.