Monday, February 22, 2010

Lentil Soup

Now that I've successfully ruined everyone's resolutions with the past few posts, time to get life back on track (I'm heading to LA for spring break in two short weeks, this is no time for decadent cheesecake!). This is one of my favorite winter soups- thick and savory. I adapted this from the Joy of Cooking cookbook my godmother gave me for Christmas a few years ago. If you don't own this tome, you should. It's pretty indispensable if you ever branch beyond your comfort zone. I've used it as a reference many times and it has saved the day, or pie, more than once!

Sales pitch over, back to the soup. This is a great soup for seasonal transitions. It's hearty and provides a warm comfort while the weather hasn't quite committed to warmer temperatures, but not so much so that it induces hibernation. Anytime I have carrots, celery and an onion laying around my kitchen, I feel a strong need to make stew (these are the triad that start almost every stew or soup), and luckily I often have most or all of these ingredients already in my cupboard.

There is a bit of a time commitment involved with this stew, but the majority of it is while it's simmering happily and filling your kitchen with savory aromas -- built in study time before dinner! It makes a large quantity, enough to usually cover 10-12 meals for me, so I recommend freezing half of it right off the bat. That way you don't get sick of it and you have a week's worth of meals for another time.

*Exciting side note: the fantastic new camera I got for my birthday has a function on it for taking pictures of food. I had no idea- but how exciting is that?!

Lentil Soup, adapted from

3 Tbs Olive Oil
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3 medium celery ribs, diced
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups dried lentils, rinsed and picked over
1- 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 tsp each dried thyme, cumin and paprika
8 cups water or vegetable broth *Use slightly less for a thicker soup
1.5 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
*1 bunch/10oz kale or spinach

1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-low heat.
2. Add and cook the carrots, celery, onion and garlic until tender but not browned, about 5-10 minutes

3. Stir in lentils, tomatoes, spices and water
4. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender. This can take between 30-45 minutes, mine tends to take closer to 45.
5. Stir in balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper
6.*If using the greens, stack and roll them tightly and cut crosswise into strips. Add to the finished soup and cook until tender but still bright green.

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