I love lentil soup, my parents and grandparents love lentil soup, my kids love lentil soup, my husband does not love lentil soup, but he eats it anyway. I think of lentil soup as comfort food, warm, filling, a little spicy, topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese served with a warm buttered roll and a big glass of red wine. Mmmmm…. heavenly!
Lentils are a wonderful little legume for many reasons: they are cheap, they are SUPER healthy (high protein, high fiber, high nutrients, low fat), because they are small they cook quickly with no need to soak and most importantly, they taste good and absorb flavors rapidly.
I have made lentils many ways, curried in coconut milk, spicy rice and lentils, lentil patties and more, but I always come back to this tried and true family recipe. It tastes great and warms the belly. Enjoy!
RECIPE: HEARTY LENTIL SOUP
- 1 tbsp. oil
- 2 strips bacon diced
- 1 cup diced onion
- ½ cup chopped carrot
- ½ cup diced celery
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1+tsp crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like it)
- ¼ cup wine (red or white)
- 4 cups chicken stock (homemade is great, but not necessary)
- 2 cups of water
- 2 cups lentils (dark green/brown) rinsed*
- ½ tsp. dried thyme or 1 tsp. fresh thyme
- 1 8oz can diced tomatoes
- 2 cups chopped dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, chard…)
- Salt and Pepper
In pot brown bacon bits in oil then add onions, carrots and celery. Sautee the vegetables for 3-5 minutes and add garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook garlic for 30 seconds, taking care that it doesn’t burn. Add wine, bring to simmer, add 4 cups of broth and 2 cups of water, add lentils, thyme and tomatoes. Bring to a boil then simmer for 30-45 min. Season with salt and pepper. About 20 minutes into cooking time add your dark leafy greens. Soup is done when lentils are soft and tender.
Some people like a chewy lentil, others like a mushy lentil, there is no right or wrong. Go with what you like. That statement also holds true to the amount of liquid in your soup. As lentils cook they absorb liquid if they are absorbing too much liquid feel free to add more stock or water, depending on if you like a “soupy” soup or a thicker soup. I prefer lentils a little thicker.
Lentils are thirsty! Lentils will continue to absorb the liquid they sit in, so you may need to add more liquid (water or stock) when you reheat your soup.
*RINSING YOUR LENTILS
– I am a big believer in skipping steps to save time, but this is one I never skip. Learn from my mistakes…lentils often time have small rocks or hard dirt pebbles mix in with them. Before I rinse my lentils I slowly pour them through my fingers, and pull out any pebbles. Then rinse thoroughly. Nobody wants a gritty or crunchy soup.
- If you enjoy an even heartier soup add some sweet or hot Italian sausage (there is sausage in the pictured lentils)
- 2-3 links of sausage removed from casing (just squeeze it right out) and cook along with or instead of bacon.
- Vegetarian Option-This soup is also delicious with vegetable stock and without the bacon.