saturday soup and sewing

Before I begin today’s post, let me start by saying thank you to everyone who has left such loving comments on the blog, sent emails, and been praying for my family as we mourn the loss of my dear Grammy. Your thoughts and prayers have been so kind and meant so much to my whole family. Thank you. Thank you.

I thought it only appropriate to share a soup and sewing post today, as Grammy loved sewing so much, and would have enjoyed today’s project in particular. So this post is for her. I’m so thankful that today was a wide open Saturday with a yummy pot of soup on the stove and time to work on a project that I’m making for our new home. Just the sort of day I was in need of.

First, the soup. This soup is great because it makes a TON and freezes really well. Also it can be easily adapted to fully vegetarian by leaving out the bacon and using veggie cubes/broth instead of chicken. We’ve made it both ways and I think they are equally good. The original recipe comes from one of our all time favorite cookbooks, River Cottage Family Cookbook, which is part of a series created by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, an amazing chef and writer committed to local, sustainable, and ethically produced food. He is probably best known for a television series he created about life on his small holding in rural England. It is absolutely brilliant and if you get the chance be sure to pick up one of his cookbooks or watch some of his tv shows. They are so lovely and quite entertaining!

The following is my version of this amazing lentil soup that we’ve adapted from the original to suit our tastes. I hope you love it as much as we do!

Lentil and Bacon Soup

Adapted from River Cottage Family Cookbook

This recipe makes quite a lot of soup, but it tastes even better the next day (and freezes well, too).

To serve about 12


  • 3 onions
  • 3 to 4 carrots
  • 4 to 5 celery stalks
  • 4 bacon slices
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils
  • 1 1/2 cups green lentils
  • 3 quarts water (or homemade chicken, or vegetable, leave out stock cubes if using)
  • 3 to 4 organic chicken stock cubes
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato purée
  • a few good shakes of Worcestershire sauce
  • shredded cheddar or grated Parmesan


First, cook the bacon. The following is the method I like to use when cooking bacon. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet or baking pan with sides with heavy-duty foil.  Arrange the bacon on the pan, side-by side, being sure not to overlap the pieces. Bake the bacon for 10-15 minutes for thin-cut, or until desired doneness. Set bacon aside to cool. Once cool chop into little pieces.

Peel the onions and chop them finely. Peel the carrots and trim the celery stalks (rinse them if they look muddy). Finely chop the carrots and celery. You’re aiming for equal quantities to match the amount of onion that you’ve chopped.

Heat olive oil and butter until melted in a really big soup pot with a lid – enough to cover the base completely. Turn the heat to low. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and bacon. Put the lid on the pan and let the vegetables cook very gently, for 10 to 15 minutes. They mustn’t burn or brown too quickly, but should just become tender and slightly shrunken down in the pan. From time to time, remove the lid and stir the vegetables. Fill the kettle and put it on to boil. Add the lentils to the pan.

Heat the 3 quarts of water in a large saucepan. Put the stock cubes in a bowl and add 1 quart of the hot water. Stir gently to let the stock cubes dissolve, then add this stock to the lentils in the pan. Add the remaining water to the pan. (Or skip this step and simply use chicken or vegetable stock. Generally I’m a big fan of homemade stock, but this recipe still tastes delicious using water and stock cubes.) Turn the heat to medium.

Now stir in lots of freshly ground black pepper, a little salt (the stock will be quite salty), and the oregano and/or thyme. Add the tomato purée and Worcestershire sauce.

Bring to a boil, turn the heat down again, and simmer the soup gently, with the lid not quite covering it, for at least half an hour, until the red lentils are soft and the green ones are cooked but still with a bit of bite to them. It really doesn’t matter if it cooks a bit longer. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with some good crusty bread.

Hourglass Quilt

I knew when we moved to Edinburgh that I wanted to make a quilt for our new bed. I ordered the fabric for the quilt before we left, and it has been a great project to help keep me busy while J is off at school everyday. The style of quilt I decided to make is called an hourglass quilt because each square looks like the shape of an hourglass. This past week I finished getting all my square sewn together and today I completed all ten rows for the front of my quilt and then got about half of those rows sewn together. Progress! I’m hoping by the end of the weekend I’ll have the quilt top done and then I can get the back finished this coming week. I really love how it’s coming together, and I’ll be sure to do another post once it’s completed. You can click here, here, here, or here for some other fabulous hourglass quilts… so pretty!

  • Megan

    katy! what a fun project! how is your new home? i just read about grammy…prayers for all of you. she was just such a lovely lady.

    i am seeing mar on friday on her way back from haiti. i am beside myself. 16 hours will be much to short….

    happy quilting!

    • sparrowhopes

      oh megan! so good to hear from you… and thanks so much for your kind words about grammy.

      I’m so, so excited for you and Mar to get some good time together! What fun. But you’re right, 16 hours is much too short. I’ve got an idea – why don’t you both plan some good quality time together in Edinburgh in the fall? Sound good? I know a great little flat you can stay in… 😉

      Give Mari a big hug from me!

      Love to you,

  • Suzanne

    Love the beginnings of your quilt and am anxious to see the finished product on your bed! :)

    I look forward to trying out your soup recipe. I was sure that you had an onion soup recipe somewhere in your blog but couldn’t find it. I tried something in the crock pot that didn’t work and had to be removed and started over again on the stove. Wish I had found yours!


    • sparrowhopes

      I’m so glad you like the quilt, and it should definitely be done by the time you guys come visit!

      As for the onion soup post… here’s the link:

      Sorry your first batch didn’t work out – that is so frustrating!