Food: Sweet carrot and lentil soup

Sweet carrot and lentil soup
Sweet carrot and lentil soup

There's nothing like a steaming bowl of soup on a cold day - or if you're my children - on a hot summer day too. They love this soup with buttered pitta bread whatever sort of day it is. It's very child-friendly being super smooth and naturally very sweet. The original recipe is from the River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook which I blather on about all the time to anyone with children who'll listen, because it is simply one of the best cookbooks for feeding small people. My version came about because I didn't quite have the right ingredients, which is quite common in this house. But actually I think the additional sweet potato makes it smoother and more velvety and it adds in another pesky veg portion without the children noticing. One note -don't be tempted to substitute yellow split peas for the red lentils if you happen to have run out. Even if you cook it for hours - and I mean hours - they'll still be crunchy.

1 large onion, sliced 1 large clove garlic, crushed 800g carrots, peeled and chopped 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped to a similar size as the carrots 2 generous handfuls of red lentils Chicken stock - I love Kallo chicken stock cubes if I don't have fresh stock - which is most of the time. Salt and pepper

Over a gentle heat soften the onion and garlic in some olive oil. Add the carrots and sweet potato and cook for five minutes or so. Sprinkle over the lentils and stir. I never bother making up stock in a jug (saves washing up). I just crumble over a stock cube and then add water from a freshly boiled kettle until it just covers the veg and stir. Leave to simmer for 20 minutes or so until the carrots and sweet potato are tender. Blitz until smooth and silky. Add extra water or stock until it's the right thickness (we like it quite thick) and season to taste. Serve with pittas, or croutons, cubes of cheese or pieces of ham or all of the above.

It freezes beautifully.