Vegetable Hot Pot
What's great about it
When it's a little cold outside, I often like to make up a large French-inspired vegetable based hot pot that is comfort food to nourish and satisfy. I love the sweetness and heartiness of carrots, onions and beetroot and combine them with a vegetable-based protein source like my favourite puy green lentils that hold their shape when cooked without going mushy. They take only around 25 minutes to cook which is great if you're a little time poor. A good splash of red wine adds a little body and marries really well with the beetroot and just a little tomato paste stirred through adds body and balances out the flavour.
8 shallots, peeled and halved or 1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
500g (2 large) carrots, chopped
500g beetroot (peeled and cut into large chunks)
4 sprigs thyme
3 cups homemade vegetable stock (see notes)
1 cup good red wine like merlot
1 heaped tablespoon tomato paste
sea salt and pepper to taste
1 cup dried green puy lentils
100g baby spinach or other greens such as kale or Tuscan cabbage (see notes)
- Sauté shallots and garlic over a medium heat in a large pot with a little olive oil until golden.
- Add the beetroot, carrot, thyme, stock, tomato paste and red wine.
- Cover and simmer over a low heat for 35 – 40 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add 1 more tablespoon of tomato paste if a thicker richer sauce is required.
- Rinse the lentils and place into a saucepan with 2 cups of water.
- Boil then reduce the heat, cover and cook for 30 minutes until tender and water has evaporated, add more water if necessary.
- Add lentils to the vegetable hot pot and fold through.
- Taste and season if necessary. You can adjust the mix and add more stock if needed or reduce to make it thicker.
- Add spinach if using and serve in big bowls and accompany with extra green vegetables or leafy salad.
- Garnish with fresh thyme or parsley. I sometimes like to make a lemon infused gremolita (combined lemon zest, parsley + fresh garlic) to sprinkle over the top before serving. This hot pot can be kept for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
Notes and Inspiration
You can also use other vegetables in place of the spinach such as kale or Tuscan cabbage, but for denser vegetables, it is better to add them to the hot pot halfway through the cooking, rather than at the end, which you would do if using a finer leaf like spinach.
For hardcore meat eaters - this also makes a delicious side to a medium rare steak or roast beef.
Veggie stock is easy to make, but if you just don't have the time use water as most a pre made versions are packed with a tonne of sodium and flavour enhancers you really don't want to be putting into your body. Season with good quality sea salt and a good grind of pepper. Reducing the liquid will also intensify the flavour from the carrot and beets.