4.19.2014

Amy's Favorite Lentil Soup

I know for some of the U.S., that nasty winter weather is still holding on.  In Eastern Washington we have been experiencing  the usual sporadic spring weather we are used to, but in light of the rainy conditions the last few days, I thought a nice warming soup was in order.

If you talk to just about any plant-based vegetarian, they all have their own spin on lentil soup.  My mom's lentil soup comes with just about every veggie under the sun, including broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, depending on what she has in her fridge at the time.  My version is a little bit more simple, but o'boy is it good!

What makes lentil soups such a popular go-to?  First off, lentils are easy-peasy to cook up in a soup from dried lentils.  Most types of dried lentils cook within 30 minutes, compared to dried beans that take soaking and cooking for a few hours (unless you have a pressure cooker, that is).  Lentils also have a great texture and go along very well with all sorts of veggies.  Lentil soups are also welcoming to all sorts of spice, herb, and flavor combinations.  I have tried a lentil soup that even added in some fresh lemon juice at the end, and it was an interesting and delicious kick!

For my household, lentil soup is always a favorite.  Even my husband, who is a die-hard meat and potatoes man, comes home at the end of the day wanting some of "whatever smells so good in our kitchen."  Over time, I have found that I can sneak in more veggies for Kevin if I chop them very small into a soup, but feel free to make your lentil soup as chunky as you want!

Amy's Favorite Lentil Soup
Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:
    Vegetables: approximately 4 cups total
        2 cloves garlic, pressed
        1/4 large yellow onion, finely chopped
        3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
        2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
        4-6 mushrooms, roughly chopped
    Lentils: 1+1/2 cups total, rinsed and drained
        1/2 cup dry brown lentils
        1/2 cup dry french green lentils
        1/2 cup dry red lentils
    Liquid and Spices:
        4 cups water
        2 cups vegetable stock
        1/2 Tbsp no-salt seasoning
        1 tsp cumin spice
        1 bay leaf
        pepper to taste

Instructions:
1.)  Chop all vegetables as desired.  You can add or subtract any vegetables depending on your personal tastes or what you happen to have on hand, but make sure it adds up to 4 cups of chopped veggies.
2.)  Over medium heat in a large soup pot or dutch oven, dry sauté the garlic and chopped vegetables until tender and the onion in partially translucent, stirring frequently.
3.)  Add the lentils, liquids, and spices to the pot, stirring to combine.  Bring to a simmer, then turn to medium low heat and cover, simmering for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked.
4.)  Remove the bay leaf, season with pepper, and serve steaming hot.

Amy's Notes:
Feel free to make this lentil soup to your tastes.  If you hate celery, but love broccoli, switch them out.  Or, if you have some Brussels sprouts that you are needing to use up, chop those up and throw them in!

Similarly with the lentils, if you don't have red lentils and just want to use brown lentils, feel free to mix up the lentil ratios!  Just make sure to add 1.5 cups of dried lentils total.

If you would like even more veggies in your soup, add some greens at the end of cooking.  If you would like to do this, then at the end of simmering, add in some washed and chopped dark greens.  Stir over the heat until the greens are wilted and serve.  I added some spinach to mine today, but and dark green such as kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, beet greens, etc. would work just fine.

This recipe is great to make ahead of time and reheat throughout the week.  Sometimes I make a double batch and freeze half of it for meals to defrost in the future.  Like many soups, this one tastes even better the next day!
What do you put in your version of lentil soup?

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