Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lentil Soup

Not my best photo, but you get the idea - lentil soup is a filling comfort food on a snowy Seattle day. Lentils are not showy or beautiful, but these little legumes are a tasty, nutritional superfood. Did you know that lentils are packed with protein, cholesterol-lowering fiber, B vitamins, and about twice as much iron as other legumes?  I didn't until I did a Google search and found this article, and this one, and several more.

Nutrition aside, I love the way that lentils absorb the flavors of the cooking aromatics, the broth and the other ingredients. Of course the crunchy topping of bacon is an extra bonus. 

Lentil Soup
Based on The Silver Palate Cookbook, 1982

4 strips of thick-sliced bacon
2 cups yellow onions, chopped in small dice
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped in small dice
2 stalks celery, chopped in small dice
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
7 cups Chicken Stock (low sodium) or Beef Stock
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp celery seeds
2 bay leves
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups brown lentils

1. Finely cube the bacon and saute in a soup pot over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve.

2. Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic and saute in the bacon fat over low heat, covered, until tender and golden, about 25 minutes.

3. Add the chicken or beef stock, thyme, celery seeds,  bay leaves, a grinding of fresh pepper (no salt until later) and the lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover. Simmer until lentils are very tender, about 40 minutes.

4. Discard bay leaves and puree half of the soup in a food processor, or use an immersion blender stick. Return pureed soup to the pot.

5. Taste and correct seasoning, adding salt if necessary. Stir in the reserved crisp bacon and simmer briefly before serving.

6 to 8 portions

Optional Toppings
Sour cream, salsa, splash of vinegar or lemon juice, parsley and lemon zest gremolata, green Tabasco (RL's favorite)

2007 changes:
Added 2 chorizo, crumbled & cooked in step 1
Added chipotle chili powder and cumin in step 3.

2010 changes:
Added 1/8 cup rice to the soup after step 4, since soup was too loose and soupy.  This worked well for immediate serving, but the soup needed additional broth when reheating a few days later.

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