Simple Lentil Soup

February 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

I mentioned in this post that I picked up a copy of Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian from the library the other day. I have to say, it’s a great book. It’s so informative (it IS over 800 pages long), has basic instructions for the best ways to cook every type of vegetable, and has loads of variations to his recipes. I’m going to hog this one from the library for a while, I can tell. I like his laid back approach.  If there is one thing I like in a recipe, it’s the ability to be flexible, to use what you have, to make do, if you will.  Bittman seems to think similarly.

This simple lentil soup is from his book.  My main issue with lentil soups are that they look so…brown.  But, good people, I will ask you to look beyond this humble soups boring appearance.  It’s got some things going for itself!  As unappetizing as it looks, it’s got some zing to it in the form of garlic, onions, lemon, and some good, tangy parmesan grated on top.  It also has the virtues of being a hearty meal, but feeling light on your stomach.  You’ll feel like you’ve been fueled for action. Bonus: this is about as cheap as it gets for a filling meal. A bag of lentils costs $1.39.

I was pretty much the only one who liked this meal.  Vince said he liked it but added “I was REALLY hungry when I sat down, so that helped”.  He says the sweetest things. The kids were counting bites (“how many bites do I have to take?”) from the beginning, but made it through. Again, bread was their port in the storm of dinner.

Lentil Soup adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

(I actually doubled the recipe below b/c I wanted to use all the lentils I had.  It worked well.  If you refrigerate leftovers, you may have to add some broth or water to the soup when you warm it up.  I also added the lemon, parsley, and cheese.  The original didn’t call for them, but I think they made big contributions to flavor.)

1 cup dried lentils, washed and picked over

1 bay leaf

Several sprigs of fresh thyme, or a few pinches of dried

1 carrot, cut into a 1/2-inch dice

1 celery stalk, cut into a 1/2-inch dice

6 cups vegetable stock or water (I used half and half)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 onion chopped

1 teaspoon minced garlic (I added more than this)

The juice of 1 lemon

Chopped parsley

Grated parmesan cheese

Put the lentil, the bay leaf, the thyme sprigs, carrot, celery, and the stock or water in a  medium saucepan.  Add salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down when it boils and cook on low, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, but not mushy. about 30 minutes.

While cooking the lentils, put the olive oil in a skillet and heat over medium high heat.  Add the onion and a little salt, and cook until the onion softens, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.  Take the skillet off the heat.

Back to the lentils.  Fish out the bay leaf and thyme sprigs from the lentils and stir the onion mixture in.  Add more liquid at this point if it’s needed. Stir in lemon juice and serve with grated cheese.

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