Velouté de lentilles du Puy
This recipe was written and sent by Raoul Audouin.
“My grandparents live in the mountainous region of the Velay where for centuries the “Lentille verte du puy”, grown in the region’s volcanic soil without fertilizers nor irritation, has been an icon of pride and profit.”
About the story of the Dish
“Every August the Lentils festival takes place in the French region of the Velay. We are in 1998 and I am seven…
After being served a plate of “velouté de lentilles”, everyone gathers around a small arena surrounded by tiny houses. At the center of the arena, a terrified rabbit looks at the surrounding crowd… everyone shouts: “go to number 50!”, “no, 22!”, “7!” holding in their hands a piece of paper with a number corresponding to one of the tiny houses. The rabbit runs and quickly hides in one of the houses. “70!” shouts the referee. Silence, no one seems to be claiming the prize. The man next to me looks at the paper in my hands, looks at me: “It’s yours, boy! The rabbit is yours!”
Of course, I could not keep the rabbit so my grandparents brought it to our neighboring farmer, Madame Brun. That’s how I was introduced to Estelle, Madame Brun’s granddaughter, who was the only kid my age in this mountainous village of seventeen souls. I had at least a friend and we would spend the rest of these holidays, and the following ones, together.
Many years passed, and while I was ordering a plate of “velouté de lentilles” during holidays in the Velay, a girl of my age approaches: Estelle! We laugh about the rabbit story and her father joins us. I notice his polo shirt, silver watch and shiny leather shoes. I’m surprised, so I ask him how the farm is doing. “Pretty well I’d say! You know, what you’re eating right now are not Puy lentils but Berry lentils… Since Kate Middleton wrote on her Facebook page that her son George loves Puy lentils at school, we can’t get our hands on it! People come all the way from Australia to make their best offer for my next harvest!” Cautious, I taste a spoon of this Berry lentils, the father looks at me and adds “You know what? Don’t tell anyone but I actually think they’re even better!””
250g of green lentils
2 yellow onions
2 raw beetroots
8 garlic cloves
Salt, black pepper, thyme
- Cut the onions, carrots and garlic in thin slices.
- Cut the beetroots in small cubes.
- Using a large pot, big enough for more than 1L of water, fry on high heat the onions, carrot, garlic and beetroot together in olive oil until they start to caramelize.
- Season with salt, pepper and thyme.
- Deglaze with a tablespoon of vinegar and add the lentils to the pot, keep stirring.
- When the lentils start browning add 1L of water, a teaspoon of vinegar, 4 prunes, cover the pot and lower the heat.
- Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding water if the mixture becomes too dry.
- Set aside to cool for a couple of minutes.
- Before serving the velouté, stir in some olive to loosen it up.
- Serve with a prune, fresh parsley, red sauerkraut and a slice of rye bread.
- French Le Puy lentils would be ideal but Berry lentils or any green lentil will do: they are small, dark and stay firm after cooking
- The mounts of the Velay, where this dish originates from, sit at the edge of the Pays d’Oc in Southern France: olive oil or lard can therefore be used
- Red wine vinegar is traditionally used in the Velay
- Above the mountains of Ardèche lies the valley of the Drôme where an exquisite thyme is grown. Don’t use thyme if you cannot get your hands on a good one