Garden work starts around February. It is trimming of the roses and lavenders and planting fruit trees and just general cleaning up of the garden. As it is still cold even though it is is uplifiting to fiddle in the garden, a nice thing to come back to inside the house, is a warm soup! This soup is one of the nicest lentil soups, in my mind…unpureed, thick and great with the subtle flavor of the fried pancetta ham.  It is very quick and easy and very tasty. It even beats the lentil/red pepper soup I usually make.

  1. Heat some olive oil in a big casserole pot. Fry 10 slices of pancetta, torn into pieces. Add 2 chopped shallots, 3 sticks of chopped celery, 2 diced carrots. Cook together for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add about 200g of red lentils along with 3 cups of vegetable stock.
  3. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes over gentle  heat until the lentils and carrots are tender.
  4. Remove from the heat and add one TBSP of tomato paste and some lemon juice to taste.
  5. Season with salt and freshly milled pepper.
  6. fisnish off with some freshly chopped parsley leaves.
  7. Serve warm.

Serves 4 people


  • The soup can be served as a starter if you have a light meal.
  • Use smoked bacon instead of pancetta.
  • Add 2 chopped tomatoes for a more watery  soup.
  • Add more stock or less, depending on how thick you want your soup.
  • Stir in a TBSP of cream at the end for a heavier, creamier soup.
  • The parsley can be replaced by freshly chopped coriander.
  • The soup is even better the day after.


The month in a year that I like the least, is January. I’m an ostrich and I hide my head, hoping no one will see me. Or I’m a bear, hybernating and I’m mean when disturbed. But I’m also the seed lying and waiting to push through the cold and the wet soil and bloom in the first rays of  sunshine. When February hits, I’m usually back among the living, with a strong desire to be outdoors. We have had some beautiful days in February and the garden is winking at me. When wandering through the February garden, there are small delights which makes a colorless Tourangelle  garden in February beautiful in its own way.

“L’hiver, c’est la saison du recueillement de la terre, son temps de méditation, de préparation.” – Lionel biosseau (winter is the time for the earth to meditate and prepare itself.)

All things cold and wintry, with emtpy potager cloches  and emtpy watering cans, a dry lemon verbena whcih awaits some sun to push its leaves and 2 pretty pebbles from La Loire to add some ambiance in this “jardin en Fevrier”.

The rosehips are starting to show signs of weariness and fatigue, the monnaie du pape and dry hydrangeas are delicate in their white paper thin petals and in stark contarst with the dark berries of the “gloire de versailles”- Cyanothus.

The buddleia already has new growth on its woody stems, the hellebores are flowering in white clumps close to the dark wet soil, while the faithful Italian Arum sees to lush green vegetation in the garden, perfect to pick and stick into a vase along with a hellebore flower.

The rouge gorges et charbonnieres et mesanges charbonnieres feed happily on the fruit balls and seed bowl hanging under the arch and the chickens enjoy the freshly turned over soil.

A lot of green moss on the terrace and stairs and around pots, while the rustic old chains that my husband so patiently aged for me, just gains more charm as the winter turns into spring.

Upturned terracotta pots everwhere in the garden, for protection and for housing/hybernating of “friendly” insects like the Forficule(earwig).

And of course…leaves and leaves and leaves!

Few things compare to enjoying that first  drink outside and munching on some clementines, even though you have to jump up and down to keep warm!

The gargoule fountain is quiet, as are several corners in the garden.

Next time I’ll tell about my seeding and planting process in my brand new potager(vegetable garden) at Coin Perdu, our farm in Correze,  the espalier of fruit trees I plan and just life in general in a March garden. We’ll be going to Coin Perdu more and more from now on, so much of the garden stories will happen there, where everything is still bare and new and in the raw!

a la prochaine fois!


31 thoughts on “Red lentil, carrot and pancetta soup.. and a garden in February.

  1. Tout est beau..
    Love the collages..the glasses and hand..

    Your winter garden is different than should see how much snow we have..Oy..

    C’est beau la France..
    I’ll be looking forward to seeing your new potager 🙂
    I have some red lentils.. time to try your soup:)


  2. Ronelle,

    Sounds like a yummy soup, just had a clementine the other day – so delicious. We are a little behind you in the garden with a good deal of snow. I am interested in how I could escaplier a fruit tree in my small garden, will be watching yours.



  3. Wonderful clicks! I have no garden, but I have started cleaning my balcony/plant pots and trimming my lavender…

    A yummy looking soup!




  4. Ag Ronelle, ek het hierdie kuiertjie nou vreeslik geniet en kon my nou so inleef in die hele storie wat jy hier bo geskryf het met al die dooie blare, omgekeerde potte, hoendertjies wat skoffel, heerlike nartjies en die lekker Perrier met passion fruit stroop…hmmm….ek verlang!

    Die sop ryk heerlik en gaan beslis gemaak word hier in my kombuis!

    Geniet elke dag wat nou kom buite kant! Hier by ons is dit ook elke oggend n beitjie warmer as die dag vantevore!



  5. How I wish I were able to get outside and work in my garden this early. What a delicious and refreshing gardening beverage and the soup sounds wonderful for warming you up afterward.


  6. I will make that soup this week. Looks superb! Nice to have you back and hope you enjoyed your break. ’tis the season for clementines…we have been eating a lot of them lately. Love the shot in the garden. We still have a lot of snow and spring is on my mind.


  7. Bonjour Ronelle ~ I am so pleased to read your lovely interesting post ~ “My French Kitchen” is one of my very favourite blog-sites with your inspirational and beautiful rustic garden photos and recipes. The soup sounds delish!
    “All Things French”


  8. Hello Ronelle,
    Glad to have you back from January! The soup looks delicious and I will def try it once our much awaited cooler days are here.
    Looking forward to here about your garden at Coin Perdu! thank you for sharing these beautiful images.
    xoxo Colette ~ Afrique du Sud


  9. Hello Ronelle,
    Glad to have you back from January! The soup looks delicious and I will def try it once our much awaited cooler days are here.
    Looking forward to hear about the garden at Coin Perdu! thank you for sharing these beautiful images.
    xoxo Colette ~ Afrique du Sud


  10. Hello Ronelle 🙂 Forgive my long absence. I have been gone so long, I did not even know about your site redesign. Your previous site design was pretty and whimsical and this new look is tres chic! I love both!

    Your soup is so comforting and your site as always, calls to mind everything that a good life should be! Beautiful 🙂


  11. Hi Ronell

    Wat ‘n mooi artikel, met die mooi fotos.

    Miskien gaan ek jou sien , met die dat Cecely-hulle nou Frankryk toe gaan


    T Martie


  12. …so good to hear from you again. Looks like everything in your garden is waking up from their long nap…beautiful pictures! Can hardly wait to start digging in my own garden – soon, very soon. We’ve been having temps in the 70’s so Spring is near.


  13. Gorgeous images Ronell and the soup sounds delicious – it’s cool and rainy at the moment so I think I can make it now even if it’s summer!


  14. What a wonderful soup, will make it on Sunday, Ronelle. How you embrace life! You really know just how, and being such an excellent photographer and narrater is the cause of a person wanting to read the post again and again!


  15. Love the photos and the great soup. Congrats on the Top 9.

    We invite you to share this post and some of your favorite posts on Food Frenzy.
    Please check out our community.


  16. Hey Ronelle! Ooh, I’ve been doing so much garden work too. I have my own garden now, since I moved to South Florida. It’s really wonderful…
    By the way, I’ve never seen such a hearty looking lentil soup. Yum! I have to admit that I miss lentil and split pea soups with that taste of wonderful bacon that you mentioned here…for sure:-)
    p.s. I hope you enjoyed your break/vacation.


  17. The collage has me all dreamy for spring. I wish I could see my garden. But I can see myself to that warming soup and February in Minnesota is all about searching for the warmth.


  18. Ronelle dear,

    So good to see you back in gear. I missed your postings.

    Everything is lovely, even though the garden is just beginning to stir.

    I like the lentil recipe and NOW is the time for me to try it. We are having a true cold snap. I had to hand pollinate peaches and plums today because the bees aren’t coming out in the cold.

    Sending love across the miles,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island


  19. Beautiful post, Ronell and splendid photographs. I’m looking forward to tales from the veggie patch.


  20. I just wanted to tell you how inspiring you are as a woman, mother, artist, chef and person. Your artful life is wonderful. What a warm heart driven life and home you have created. Thanks for sharing so much of yourself. From one bear to another. Warmly, Gina


  21. What beautiful images! It’s so nice to see glimpses of spring. I know the first signs of spring aren’t far off for many of us and after a very snowy winter in NY I can’t wait! Thank you for sharing.


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