Monday, February 16, 2009

Lentil Soup

I used to look for recipes that had very short cooking times so I could throw dinner together quickly. Right now, it works best if I can start dinner and then play with my daughter, put her to bed, and then finish up the meal. Tonight, I made a lentil soup that takes about an hour to an hour and a half. It came together really easily (I bought the already chopped onion, carrot, celery mix from Trader Joe's), is very inexpensive (I was trying to figure it out - maybe $1/serving but probably less) and will make leftovers. With the rain outside, it was nice and cozy in here with soup simmering on the stove.

Couple of thoughts: Today at lunch Theresa and I were talking about how she adds vinegar to her soups to give it a little acidity. The white wine in this recipe serves that purpose but you could substitute a tablespoon or two of white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or lemon juice. I learned awhile ago that one key to having soft lentils is not to salt them until the end. In this recipe, low-sodium chicken broth and tomatoes without salt will also help toward that end.

Lentil Soup (4 servings)

1 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. chopped carrot
1/2 c. chopped celery
2 T olive oil
1 -2 garlic cloves, chopped up
3 1/2 c. chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes
1/3 c. white wine
3/4 c. lentils
some spices - tonight I used a bay leaf, a tsp of paprika, a dash of cayenne, and a sprinkle of Penzeys cajun seasoning. We added salt and pepper at the table.

Saute the onion, carrot, and celery in olive oil until soft (about 10 minutes). At the end of that time, add the garlic and spices and saute a minute or two. Add all the rest of the ingredients (except salt, if using). Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about an hour or until your lentils are soft. If you leave the pot covered, your soup will be thinner. If you leave the lid off, it'll be thicker and more of a stew consistency. You can also add some water (or broth) toward the end or when you reheat leftovers to adjust the consistency.

Hooray for legumes!


  1. I believe the tomatoes (acid) prolong the softening process as well. I remember reading or being told that to stop/slow the softening of beans/legumes, just add tomatoes or tomato sauce.

    I usually cook my lentils until al dente in broth or water (for about 15 minutes with the lid slightly askew), drain (or not depending on consistency preference), then add to the soup/stew.

  2. Great idea - in this recipe, you could cook the lentils with veggies and broth and add the tomatoes later on.

  3. A great way to thicken stew and add nutrients and sweetness is to add pureed pumpkin or winter squash. After I cook and mash pumpkins for holiday desserts, I usually have some leftover in the freezer. I just plop the frozen blob into stews and cook until it thaws and incorporates. I love to add pumpkin and curry powder to my lentil stew.

    I just love this idea for a blog. I love to be in the kitchen, too (cooking, that is... not cleaning).

  4. I made this soup for dinner last night (except I subbed vegetable broth for chicken broth) and it turned out fantastic! Steve & I both really enjoyed it. Thanks for posting this recipe!
    ~Steph : )