Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Smooth and Satisfying Lentil Soup

This is a completely vegetarian dish with no eggs or dairy products, yet it has a hearty and satisfying taste and texture. The secret is the lentils themselves which are an excellent source of protein and have a rich flavor.

When I was little my grandmother would make this dish for my grandfather and I in the winter time. We had it with toasted bread and a squeeze of lime to bring out the flavor. It was a complete supper and left us sleepy and satisfied.

This dish is also a great way to use up your not so new vegetables. I use the day old tomatoes, slightly wilted celery, yesterday's cut-up onion, etc. The quantities of ingredients don't need to be exact, so use what you have. I give the quantities that work for me.

I used a crock pot to cook my soup, but you can certainly cook it on low heat on top of the stove.

This recipe makes enough to serve 4 people as a meal, or 6-8 people as a starter dish.

  • 1 Cup Red Lentils
  • 1-2 Large tomatoes or 1 1/2 cups of cherry tomatoes, or a combination. Diced.

  • 1 stalk of celery, sliced. Use the leaves too, they add flavor.

  • 1 carrot peeled and sliced.
  • 1-2 onions, chopped. I used a mixture of red and white onions because I had some left over from another meal.
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely sliced.
  • a handful of fresh parsley, and/or cilantro. I love both, but some people prefer one over the other.
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt.
  • 3 cups of water.
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns. Use less or omit if you don't want it spicy.
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin.
  • 1 pinch ground coriander.

  1. Rinse the lentils and place in a crock pot.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix.
  3. Add the spices and the water, stir thoroughly.
  4. Cover the crock pot and set on medium or high heat . If you are using a stove, use low heat (electric setting 3).
  5. I like to cover the crock pot with a glass bowl over the cover to increase the insulation. This will make it cook slightly hotter.

  6. Cook for about 5-6 hours, or until all the vegetables are tender.
  7. Puree with a hand blender, or pour into a blender and puree.
  8. If using a hand blender, you may get tomato skins caught in your blender. This is not a problem, but you may want to clean them off periodically as it will make blending faster. I usually just dump the peels back into the soup and chop them up.
  9. After you are done blending, stir and taste the soup for final spice adjustments.
  10. Keep the soup on low heat for another 5 minutes to rest.
  11. Serve with toasted garlic bread, limes, and throw a pinch of chopped parsley on each serving for extra panache.

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