Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lentil Soup

Believe it or not, it's soup weather in Southern California. It's cloudy and 60ºF here, which many people would consider alright or pretty nice (especially anyone living in the Lake Tahoe area), but not when you have absolutely no cold tolerance. Seriously, I have none. I'm at the point where it gets embarrassing because my lips turn blue/purple in the cold and strangers think I am dying or need medical care. So in my book, 60º warrants a nice bowl of soup.

One of the easiest soups to make is this lentil soups. The ingredients are simple, it's budget friendly, and the flavor gets better by the day. This is another one of those recipes that you don't need to take too seriously. If you add a few more ingredients or swap out dried for fresh herbs, it will still be good. What I love about this soup is that it's really filling and hearty, but it's healthy and (almost) vegetarian. I prefer the flavor of chicken broth, but use vegetable broth instead if you want to keep it completely vegetarian. Serve this with a loaf of crusty bread and you'll be set for dinner (or lunch). If you don't own an immersion blender or food processor, the texture won't be as creamy, but the flavor will still be great.

Serves about 8
Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes

1 tablespoon oil
1 pound dried lentils
3 medium carrots, chopped (no, I don't peel mine)
2 large celery stalks, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 or 3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
8 1/2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth (or use bullion cubes)
2 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped (or 1 tablespoon dried)
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and pepper, if you want some extra seasoning
Parmesan cheese, grated

Soak your lentils for about 25 to 30 minutes. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the oil, followed by the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Saute until fragrant and tender, about 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices and mix. When the tomatoes have softened, add the lentils and coat with sauce. Pour in the chicken broth and mix. Add the thyme, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil then cover and allow to simmer on low for at least 1 hour. At this point you can remove the bay leaf, or if it doesn't bother you, blend it into the soup. Using an immersion blender, puree to your desired consistency. Top with grated Parmesan cheese. Pin It Now!

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