Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lentil Soup

This meal has it all for us. Veggies, protein, fiber - all in one gorgeous pot. A huge batch costs very little and is an opportunity to use produce nearing the end of its optimal fridge life. I've had success with so many vegetable combinations, but this particular pot was a favorite. Even the lunchbox containers came home scraped clean.

The secret ingredients in this springtime version were new potatoes and a baby turnip, adding sweetness and starchiness to the soup base.

Of course, having a couple quarts of homemade chicken stock in the freezer was a huge bonus. I'll do a future post on making stock. This particular batch was made with a leftover rotisserie chicken carcass with meat on the wings and back (I remove the skin and visible fat), plus a package of giblets (about 16 oz) and a package of livers (about 8 oz). I find it remarkable how inexpensive giblets are. I suppose they aren't big sellers at Henry's!

The nutshell version is 1) dice and saute a bunch of veggies, 2) add more delicate flavors, 3) add lentils and broth, 4) bring the pot to a boil, then simmer covered for 20-30 min.

I don't buy fancy lentils (but they are so delicious, I would if I could!). Standard grocery store brown lentils are tasty and hearty in this soup.

Lentil Soup
Serves 8-10.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 medium carrots, diced
3-4 small potatoes, diced (about 1 cup)
1 small turnip, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 bay leaves
5-6 sprigs thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
3-4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 pound lentils, picked over to remove stones and rinsed
2 quarts (8 cups) chicken or vegetable broth (I used boxed broth all the time, also delicious)

Warm the oil over medium heat in a large stock pot.  Saute onions, carrots, potatoes, and turnips until softened, about 10 min. Season with salt and pepper. Add bay leaves, thyme, and tomatoes, stirring to warm and combine, about 2 min. Stir in lentils and broth. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until lentils are softened and flavors combine, about 20-30 min. Serve warm or at room temperature. Also delicious topped with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and/or shaved parmesan cheese.

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