It has been an unusually mild winter. I can probably count on one hand the number of days we had snow this season. Trust me I'm not complaining. The moderate temperatures have made for lighter moods, lighter jackets, and a long season of lighter soups, which in turn has kept me lighter on my feet. In addition to the clear broth soups, one of my favorites this season has been a vegetarian lentil soup that has been satisfying on all fronts, packed full of savory and herby flavors. It is so delicious that one could potentially overlook how healthy this soup is for you, and so good that I think I will be making it well past the winter season.
Our little family will be on vacation over the next week so I won't be able to respond until we return. I hope everyone has a relaxing and delicious weekend.
The Barefoot Contessa’s Lentil Vegetable Soup
adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten
This recipe yields a lot of soup, but I make a full batch and freeze half of it in individual freezer bags and defrost it as needed. Halve the recipe if you don’t want to make quite so much. If you’ve got a Parmesan rind hanging around (I always store them in the freezer for soups and pasta sauces), add it to the soup along with the stock for deeper flavors.
- 1 lb (450 g) French green lentils
- 3 large yellow onions, chopped
- 2 leeks, white part only, chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (roughly 3 cloves)
- olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 8 celery stalked, chopped
- 4 to 6 carrots, chopped
- 2 1/2 quarts (2 1/2 liters) vegetable stock
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons red wine or red wine vinegar
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
- In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain.
- In a large stockpot (one that holds at least 6 quarts) 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 tender. Add the celery and carrots and saute for 10 more minutes. Add the stock, tomato paste, and lentils. If you have a Parmesan rind hanging around, add that in too. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until the lentils are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the red wine and serve hot, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan.