Lentil soup is popular in my house, children aside. My husband especially loves the little beans and finds them hearty enough to not necessitate meat. I have about five lentil soups that I make during the winter, but this one is my most favorite. It is simple, distinct in flavor, and makes an enormous pot. I usually freeze individual containers and then use them for a fast, hot lunch. It does take a bit of time to chop and let simmer, but it's perfect for a lazy weekend afternoon project. The Barefoot Contessa really knew what she was doing when she created this soup. Thanks, Ina--it's a keeper.
Lentil Vegetable Soup
-adapted from foodnetwork.com ( Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa)
- 1 lb lentils (I just use a bag of regular old brown lentils)
- 3 large onions, chopped
- 2 leeks, chopped (white part only)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup good olive oil, plus additional for drizzling on top
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried (I have used both--equally good)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 8 stalks celery, diced
- 4-6 carrots, peeled and diced
- 3 quarts (3 large boxes) chicken or vegetable stock (I've used both)
- 1/4 cup tomato paste, more if you like
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- -Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain.
In a large stockpot on medium heat, saute the onions, leeks, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent and very tender. Add the celery and carrots and saute for 10 more minutes. Add the stock, tomato paste, and lentils. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until the lentils are cooked through. Check the seasonings. Stir in the red wine vinegar and serve hot, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan. Do not skip that last step. It turns the soup from something really good into something really special. Serve with hot crusty bread.