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Student Food: home-cooked in hovels

October 25, 2013

My dear little lad, Alex, has finally flown the coop and landed in the fine city of Norwich to have fun doing Illustration at Art School for the next three years. He’s rejected the idea of Waitrose food parcels or home-made cakes by post (along with cycling helmets and hi-viz jackets – working on those) – but he has asked for recipes. This is a triumph of sorts. His fledgling cooking skills have already earned him an exemption from cleaning duties.

The aim is the usual: tasty, cheap, healthy and quick and easy to make meals. Much of the time the recipes start off with an onion and few cloves of garlic…

The recipe he and his friends have wanted texting to them the most is a real throw-back – a version of a Cranks curried tomato and lentil soup recipe. But, it fulfils our criteria and they seem to love it! It’s very easy to make and stores well.


Curried Lentil and Tomato Soup (serves about 2-4 depending on how hungry you are)

1 medium onion, sliced and then chopped into smallish pieces

1 clove garlic, crushed or chopped finely

Few slugs of sunflower oil

3 sticks celery and 2 peeled carrots: sliced finely and cut into tiny cube-shapes

1-2 teaspoons of medium curry powder (buy this loose in health food shops – much cheaper)

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 vegetable stock cube dissolved in mug boiled water

About half a mug of dried red lentils

a little salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper



1. In a medium-large saucepan, fry the onions and garlic in a little sunflower oil (1 tablespoon max.) for about 10 minutes – very gently so they do not burn.

2. Add the celery and carrots, frying gently for a further 5 minutes (you might need to add a small amount of extra oil?)

3. Stir the curry powder into the vegetables and cook for a few minutes

4. Add the stock (with a couple of extra mugs of water) and the lentils. Bring to the boil, put the saucepan lid on (leaving a little gap at one side so steam can escape) then turn the heat right down to simmer for about 15 minutes.

5. Add the tomatoes and simmer for a further 10 minutes.

6. Serve with chunks of wholemeal bread – or more likely white bread as you’re away from your mother’s good influence. You could also make cheese and herb scones to make this a substantial meal for 4 hungry students.

You can keep any leftovers in the fridge for about 3 days – but make sure the mix is cool before putting it into the fridge.

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