Thursday, November 1, 2007

Savory Lentil Soup




About six months ago, I tried a recipe from Martha Stewart Living for French lentil soup. I don't know what happened, but it was horrendous. We ate a bowl each, and then froze the rest to eat later. Neil started referring to it as "that nasty stuff" for the duration of its freezer life, as in "I know you had a really crazy day today--why don't you just defrost that nasty stuff for dinner?"

This is much, much better. It's based on my mom's recipe for lentil soup, but it has a few variations (I try not to post anything on here that you could find in another cookbook or something, because then why bother reading this blog? This is only my made-up or adapted recipes).

Here's what you'll need:

One 16-oz bag green lentils
Large onion
Two or three carrots, peeled and chopped
Three or four stalks of celery, diced
1 1/2 t. ground cumin
Olive oil
1 t. Salt
1/4 to 1/2 t. ground red pepper
Chicken broth or bouillion (enough for about 7 cups of water)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Sausage, if desired

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. When it's hot, dump in the garlic and the cumin and let them saute for about thirty seconds, then add the onion. Cook the onion for about three minutes until it begins to soften, then add the carrots and celery and cook for another two minutes.




Add chicken broth (I use bouillion and 7 c. water because I'm cheap; if you use chicken broth I would use about 4 cups of broth and 3 of water), then stir in the lentils. Add salt and a couple of shakes of red pepper (depending on how much spice you like).

Bring it back up to a boil, then turn down to simmer for about half an hour. I like to stop the simmering process before the lentils turn into mush--I prefer them soft, but still retaining their individual shapes.

If you want to add sausage, add it at the end. I prefer to use kielbasa or smoked sausage because it retains its shape and can be microwaved rather than requiring another pot. DO NOT add the sausage at the beginning--it will taste all woody and lentily and not like sausage at all. Just chop it up and microwave it.

I am particularly fond of the smoked sausage breakfast links for this--they are very small and nicely compact. I use about 5 oz, chopped in small pieces.
And if you do not have cumin, which you should, because it's very good and very important, then I suggest that rather than buying it at the grocery store you seek out an ethnic foods store, because they will probably sell it in very cheap packets where it's like 99 cents for a huge bag instead of being $4 an ounce at the grocery store. In fact, I highly recommend that you check your ethnic foods store for all the spices you use regularly--I think you'll be surprised.
For instance, at the one I frequent (down by the WL library parking garage, for you locals!), I can buy a big packet of nutmeg for less than a dollar. Love it!
Just make sure you save random containers, so that you have containers in your pantry instead of baggies. This is what my "cool spices" shelf of my spice cupboard looks like. Super attractive, eh?

1 comment:

Kilerkki said...

I am going to make this, too. Someday. Yum.

Also, I envy you your spices. I've only ever found tiny one-ounce things of nutmeg for $6 a pop. Robbery, I say!

Also, I have books to lend you, come Christmas time. I am in love.