Red lentil soup or a photoshoot that could have gone so wrong
This photoshoot had just about everything to make it a fiasco even bigger than this one. I was pressed for time, I was tired, I was stressed. It was late afternoon already, and I had spent hours in the kitchen making soup and other things. The natural light available in my living room - where I usually shoot all my food pictures - was next to none, so I had to improvise a set on my son's bedroom, carting off a small side table and a wooden board, balancing everything against his wardrobe, just to take advantage of the last rays of sunlight. His room is the one where sunlight lasts longer, in the afternoon.
I hardly ever photograph there, though I have in the past, like here, or here , here and here . I don't like the idea of his bedroom smelling of food, which is quite ridiculous as my hallway is a square and the scents from the kitchen have a tendency of drifting through that square and invading every other room in the house... still, it's a lot of hassle, involving the removal of rugs - a childish one that will hardly look good as background for moody, adult food pictures as the ones I strive to make - and the covering up of soft toys, wardrobe, games, books, you name it. I only ever go to such troubles when I really have no light in my living room that allows me to photograph with a modicum of quality.
So it was with a sense of dread and a heavy heart, as I really had no time to fuss about much and do a proper styling work, and after having seen the result I had with this chocolate cake - which I photographed the same day, only minutes before - that I lay down my bowl of still piping hot, fragrant soup, adorned only with a pretty doilly, a gorgeous spoon and a slice of just out of the oven bread. I looked down at the whole, and I frankly liked it, only wishing it was sunnier outside. And then, as if a sort of answer to my prayers, the sun broke through heavy clouds and lit the whole room, and I snatched up my camera and took shot after shot of what ended up being quite good photos of what has easily beome my favourite go to soup this Fall.
Although its colour might not state it well enough, this is a red lentil soup. And this is one heck of a great red lentil soup, if I do say so myself. My soups are usually quite simple, I don't fuss around with frying onions and garlic in olive oil before caramelizing the veggies and then adding the stock. I have no patience for that when I'm in the middle of a Sunday cooking frenzy where I have to make ahead all the stuff that needs to be ready for the week to come. Stuff that freezes well and easy, and that we can just take out the portion we will be needing and defrost it and heat it and eat it. Like bread. Like soup. So my Sunday made soups are usually a 'all in one pot' affair. With homemade stock, I grant it. We always seem to have loads of homemade stock stashed away in small containers at the back of the freezer. But we don't like to waste any food, so even the bones and skin and fats get used in one way or another.
There's nothing wrong with taking the time to caramelize your vegetables and fry up onion and garlic for a soup, it will infuse loads of flavour into it, and whenever I have the time for it, and know the soup will be consumed that day, I love doing that. But if you're making soup in large quantities, I have known now for a while and through dire experiences of my own, that it will spoil after two, three days. And if you freeze it, the flavours will change. So I keep my weekly soups quite simple in that aspect, but do add a truck load of veggies and good homemade stocks to make the whole concotion sing. It's like brewing potions, I confess that most days whenever I am cooking I feel like some sort of witch - hence the Kitchen Witch Miranda moniker!!
Sooooo... if you're curious about this one, here's how to go about it:
- 1 cup of red lentils
- 1 large yellow onion
- four medium sized carrots
- four medium sized potatoes
- 1 turnip
- 1 courgette
- 1,5 L stock, either vegetable or poultry (we used duck stock as we had to boil the carcass of one to make Duck Rice)