Saturday, January 14, 2012

Luscious Lentil Soup

This is my "go-to" soup.  It is simple, hearty, healthy, and every bit as luscious as its name suggests.  I've made it for my family, friends, and church functions and it has always had rave reviews.  The base recipe is from an internet search that I printed out long ago and it indicates it was "Exported from MasterCook".  So that's the best reference I can give for this right now.   This is a blended soup, so you don't have to worry about how pretty your chopped veggies are, as long as they are consistent in size to cook evenly.  Enjoy!

Luscious Lentil Soup (mom_of_4 comments in italics)

8 c chicken stock or water  (Definitely chicken stock! but as in any soup, water will do if necessary.  Sometimes I only use 6c liquid if I want it to be thicker.  Often I use 4c stock, 2c water.  Saved potato water from boiling potatoes is a delicious substitute too!)
4 medium carrots - sliced  ( I like a small dice, because they blend better in my hand blender)
4 celery stalks - sliced  (same here)
1 medium onion - chopped
1 leek - chopped  (I almost never have leeks in the house, but it is a lovely addition if you have one)
1 tbsp fresh parsley - chopped  (Again, for some reason, don't have this around very often.  It is good without, but very nice with)
1 1/2 c red lentils
1 tomato - chopped  (This soup is best with nice fresh tomato in it.  I can't explain why, but I've used canned diced tomatoes and it is still good, but it is truly "Luscious Lentil Soup" when you use fresh.  One large or two medium.)
30 ml garlic - crushed  (Or 2 nice large cloves, minced)
1 large bay leaf
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground thyme  (Or a generous pinch of dried thyme leaves, crushed between your fingers)

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan.  (Start your onion, carrot, celery, and garlic in some fat to "sweat" for a few minutes.  Bacon fat is a perfect flavor layer in this soup, but olive oil or butter will do.  Salt your veg with sea salt.  Add tomatoes, stock/water, lentils, and herbs.)  Cook over medium heat 45 minutes.  Puree 2 c soup in blender.  Mix with remaining soup in pot.  Heat thoroughly and serve.  (It is so much easier to use a hand blender if you have one.  Whirl it up until it is the texture you like.)  Makes 8 servings.

Variations:  Serve with lemon wedges for added zest.  Or add 1 tbsp miso for extra flavor.  (I have never tried this.  I never have miso around the house.)