Fry onion, garlic and any other veg - carrots, celery, possibly add some bacon if you like it/aren't vegetarian, season and add some herbs, I occasionally also add some cumin and/or dried chilli flakes, and then chuck in a generous handful or two of lentils, stir, and then add a tin of tomatoes and top up with chicken stock.
Bring to the boil and then simmer for around 20-30 minutes till all is cooked. Puree if you like it smooth.
Have you got The Bean Book? Lovely recipe in there which is chopped fried mushrooms with a topping of cooked lentils (they go like a very thick puree) with cheese on the top, baked in the oven. Easy and very tasty!
No need to saok, they cook in about 20 minutes in water (longer in tomato sauce)
As well as soup, you can make delicious dahls to serve with rice, or veggie bolognese (just agg other veg too). I cook the lentils seperately and add to the tomato sauce for this.
I add them to casseroles to thicken the sauce...
Mostly though, as our stabd-by staple that we eat at least once a week, I just cook them up with a stock cube to a thick consistancy, add garlic and lots of freshly chopped coriander, and serve it with basmati rice. Simple, cheap, and delicious.
OK - wrong book! It's from Rose Elliot's "Not Just a Load of Old Lentils"
Lentils and Mushrooms au Gratin
6 oz lentils 1 pint milk and water mixed 2 oz butter 1 large onion juice and rind of 1/2 lemon salt and pepper 1 teaspoon yeast extract (Marmite) 8 oz mushrooms 1-2 oz each of fresh breadcrumbs and grated cheese for topping
Soak the lentils in the liquid overnight or for a few hours if possible (I don't do this - I make sure that the pint of water/milk is really hot and then pour it over the lentils and leave to soak for about 30 minutes)
Simmer in the liquid until golden and tender
Meanwhile melt half the butter, add sliced onion and cook until tender but not brown
Add to lentils with lemon juice and grated rind, salt pepper and yeast extract; liquidise to make smooth, thick puree
Slice the mushrooms and fry in the rest of the butter until just tender
Place the mushrooms in a shallow casserole, top with the lentil mixture and the breadcrumbs and cheese
bake in a moderate oven, 350/GM4 for 40-45 minutes until golden and bubbly
Apologies that it's imperial rather than metric, but it's an old book!
I seem to remember that I used a lot more mushrooms the last time I made it, but I guess it's up to you.
Thanks everyone (and Carmenere especially for the link to the soup recipe) will do that tomorrow then the DS's can have homemade bread with real butter (usually a luxury item in this house - margaine usually I'm afraid for us ) with it. They'll be very happy