Saturday, January 8, 2011

Lentil Soup

There's really nothing like soup on a cold day (although I'd happily eat it on a hot day, too!).  And lentil soup happens to be one of our favorites - lots of vegetables (but less chopping than I had expected), incredibly good-for-you lentils and a tomato-based broth.  Mmmm.  There are also a lot of ways to make it your own - some people add cumin and curry spices for a more Indian flair but for us? Grated parmesan cheese and crumbled bacon sprinkled on top of each bowl does the trick. 
However, we had to make do with only parmesan this time.  I have plenty of bacon in the freezer so a lack of bacon wasn't the reason.  Instead, while cooking, our bacon caught on fire.  I like to broil bacon by placing a drying rack on top of a cookie sheet; this makes the bacon nice and crisp as pan-frying just doesn't work well for me.  Broiling also allows a lot of the fat to drip off the bacon onto the cookie sheet. I've been using this technique for a while but accidentally set the bacon on the top rack (I usually do second from the top).  When I pulled the bacon out, expecting a nicely crisped piece, I saw a small flame instead consuming our bacon.  Luckily, we always have baking soda so we successfully doused the flame (and sadly, bacon right along with it).

So whether you have bacon or not, try this lentil soup recipe! We served it with cornbread but a slice of good bread would go well with it, too.

Lentil Soup
Taken from: AllRecipes
Serves: 8-10
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed, diced or whole peeled tomatoes (I had whole peeled tomatoes which I chopped up), including juice
  • 2 cups dry lentils
  • 8 cups water (could substitute chicken broth for all or part of the water)
  • 2 cups spinach, rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons wine (optional)
  • grated parmesan cheese, for serving
  • 2-4 slices of cooked bacon, for serving
-In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery; cook and stir until onion is tender. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, oregano, and basil; cook for 2 minutes.
-Stir in lentils, and add water and tomatoes (including the juice). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for at least 1 hour. When ready to serve stir in spinach, and cook until it wilts. Stir in vinegar and wine, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
-Serve with grated parmesan and crumbled bacon on top, if desired.

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