Pheasant and Lentil Soup

Pheasant is good value. The majority of the cost of breeding and raising these birds is recouped from those who pay to shoot them, a strange arrangement but one from which the cook benefits.

The stronger flavour of a well-hung bird suits this soup which is gently spicy. It is probably more sensible to make double the quantity and freeze half – that way you will use the whole pheasant. Of course, you may like the soup enough to drink two bowlfuls each!

Ingredients

  • 2 oz (50 g) brown lentils
  • ½ pheasant
  • salt
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 medium onion
  • oz (40 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 1 small knob ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • ½ fresh nutmeg, grated
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tomatoes, de-seeded
  • a little lemon juice

To Complete

  • a few sprigs of flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon double cream

Method

  1. Soak the lentils in cold water for at least an hour. Look them over carefully for any little stones or grit. Boil in plenty of salted water for 10 minutes, then drain.
  2. Take all the pheasant meat off the bone and keep it to one side. Peel the carrot and onion, then chop them finely. Fry the bones, carrot peelings and any oddments from the onion with half the butter in a saucepan until brown. Pour on 2 pints (1.2 litres) of water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes and then turn off the heat. When this has cooled decant the stock into a clean jug for use a little later.
  3. Take a medium-sized saucepan and warm the remaining butter in it. Fry the onion and carrot with the garlic and ginger for 5 minutes until they start to colour. Add the leg meat from the pheasant and all the spices.
  4. Let them fry for a few seconds before adding the tomatoes, two-thirds of the lentils and two-thirds of the pheasant stock. Bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Liquidise the soup in a blender, then pass it through a fine sieve. Check the flavour. You will need salt, pepper and lemon juice to counter the alkaline flavours of the large amount of mild spices used. Add the lemon juice in drops until the balance is right.

To Complete

  • Heat the remaining stock. Poach the breast meat until just cooked, but still moist, about 15 minutes. Lift out the meat with a slotted spoon, slice it thinly and divide between four warmed soup bowls along with the remaining lentils and the chopped parsley.
  • Add this stock to the soup, and heat. Add a little cream, no more than a tablespoonful, to improve the texture. As it comes to the boil pour into the garnished bowls.

    Once pureed, the soup shouldn’t have prolonged boiling or the texture will turn grainy.

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