It may seem unusual to top a hot soup with a cool
slaw, but we love how the earthy lentils get a burst of freshness
and texture from the beetroot. Together they make these bowls meals
2 tbspolive oil2celery stalks, finely chopped1carrot, finely chopped1Spanish onion, finely chopped2garlic cloves, finely chopped100 gmspeck or smoky bacon, diced200 gmcanned chopped tomatoes1.5 litres (6 cups)chicken stock350 gmsmall green or black lentils3thyme sprigs1fresh bay leaf1 cupcoarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to serveBeetroot slaw3beetroot, trimmed¼Spanish onion, finely grated1garlic clove, finely grated2 tbspolive oil2 tbspred wine vinegar, or to taste½ tspdry-roasted caraway seeds (see note)
Preheat oven to 200C. For the slaw, place 2 beetroot in a small roasting pan, add enough water to cover base of pan, cover with foil and roast until beetroot are tender when pierced with a skewer (50 minutes to 1 hour). Cool, then peel and coarsely grate into a bowl. Peel remaining beetroot, cut into julienne and add to bowl with remaining ingredients. Season and toss well.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add celery, carrot, onion and garlic and sauté until tender (5-6 minutes). Stir in speck, fry until fat begins to render (3-4 minutes), then add tomato and cook until beginning to darken (3-4 minutes). Add stock, lentils, thyme and bay leaf, bring to a simmer, half-cover with a lid, and cook until lentils are tender (40-45 minutes).
Pulse the soup to a coarse purée with a hand-held blender, leaving plenty of lentils whole. Stir in parsley, season generously to taste and serve hot topped with beetroot slaw and extra parsley.