Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lentil Soup

For the past few months, nearly every time I opened my cabinet a lonely bag of lentils with no culinary destiny was staring back at me. I love lentils and they cook much more quickly than many dried beans, but I'd just never gotten around to finding a recipe to use them until I stumbled upon this one on Mark Bittman's website, one of the food blogs/websites I check on a regular basis. By no means is this a pretty soup, but it is packed full of both nutrition and flavor, easy to prepare, and can feed everyone from vegans to carnivores (by cooking up some chopped bacon or sausage at the start and cooking your vegetables in the rendered fat). The lentils are hearty and filling, and make for a satisfying and healthy lunch or dinner with a side salad and crusty piece of bread.

Lentil Soup
from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
serves 4

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 celery stalk, cut into 1/2 -inch dice
1 cup lentils, washed and picked over
1 bay leaf
6 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock or water
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Put the oil in a large, deep pot over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, just a minute or two. Add the carrot and celery and keep cooking and stirring until brightly colored and hot, about 2 minutes.

2. Add the lentils, bay leaf, and stock; sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. (At this point, you may cool and refrigerate the soup, covered, for up to 2 days; reheat gently.) Add more stock if the soup is too thick. Just before serving, taste, sprinkle with salt and more pepper if needed, and serve.

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