Simple Lentil Soup

I haven’t posted a lentil soup here in weeks.  Weeks!  Hopefully you’ve been managing to get by alright with that red lentil soup from last month.  And did I ever mention that you can and should make The Best Soup of 2011 with green lentils?

But what do you think I EAT around here, people?  Oh, right, that kale salad.  Every day.  But also: lentil soup.  And this week it’s this lentil soup.  It’s a recipe that’s been in my life for a long time, but I never get tired of it.  I try out a lot of recipes, as you might have noticed.  Some are duds (you’ll never hear about those, shhh).  Some are momentary infatuations.  Some I make season after season, year after year.  This soup falls into that last category.

And since it’s late April and I’m talking lentil soup, I guess it’s time to come clean about something: seasonality be damned, I make soup year-round.  Avert your eyes if you must, or haul your laptop over to right in front of your air conditioner to read about it.  I live in Seattle, after all, and feel that I am entitled to take advantage of the few meteorological perks available in this region.  So I will be making soup as the weather permits (i.e., all summer long).

This is one of those recipes that I got from a friend a long time ago and I don’t know where it came from before that.  So if you are the inventor of this precise combination of ingredients, thank you.  It’s perfect.  I haven’t changed a thing.  My friend says the Parmesan rind is what makes it so good, which may be true, but if you don’t have one handy I imagine that you could add the flavor by stirring in some finely-grated Parmesan cheese at the end.  And if you’re vegan I am pretty sure that you could get away with leaving the Parmesan rind out and adding one pinch more salt–but I haven’t tried that.  I don’t want to mess with perfection.

Finally, don’t forget that in the time it takes this soup to cook you can easily bake a homemade bread.  This week I’ve been baking this easy little oat bread, but a whole wheat soda bread or even a beer bread would be perfectly nice as well.Simple Lentil Soup: Finely chop 1 onion, 2 carrots, and 3 garlic cloves.  Cook in olive oil over medium heat (covered but stirring occasionally) until softened, about 25 minutes.  Add 7 c. vegetable broth, 1 tsp. dried thyme, 1/4 tsp. celery seeds, 2 bay leaves, a few grinds of pepper, 1 1/2 cups brown lentils, and a can of diced tomatoes, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, add that Parmesan rind, and simmer until the lentils are very soft, about 40 minutes.  Near the end of the cooking time, add salt to taste (start with 1/4-1/2 tsp; how much you want will depend on how salty your broth was to begin with).  Blend until smooth, or leave some of the soup un-blended to add texture.  Optional: top with grated Parmesan cheese.  Or a swirl of olive oil.  Or a spoonful of yogurt.  Or sauteed greens.  You can’t go wrong.


30 thoughts on “Simple Lentil Soup

  1. VogueVegetarian

    This sounds great! I’ve had a few recipes that call for a parmesan rind and whenever I ask a grocer they look at me like I peed my pants. Where do you get yours fellow seattleite?

    1. emmycooks Post author

      I make my own by buying a wedge of Parmesan and then putting the rind in the freezer when we’ve eaten the rest! But I bet if there’s one place in Seattle that would sell Parmesan ends, it’s Big John’s Pacific Food Importers (PFI) . Do you shop there? It’s one of my favorite stores in Seattle. Here’s the website, the store is near the ID:

    2. emmycooks Post author

      AND in the comments below I learned that you may be able to find Parmesan rinds at Whole Foods next to the grated Parmesan–now that makes good sense! :)

      1. Little Sis

        Since my sis and I take turns, there’s sometimes an inspiration to write when it’s not my day – definitely NOT organized over here. :-0

  2. Somer

    I love the simplicity of your lentil soup! I make a Morroccan lentil soup but it has like 20 ingredients. Pre-Vegan days I used to always put parmesan rinds in soups to deliciousify them! I am going to try yours but make it vegan by subbing out nutritional yeast for the parmesan rind. I think it will be amazing! I will let you know. We eat soup all year. I love it. When it’s hot outside, I will often just eat the leftovers cold.

    1. emmycooks Post author

      I did enjoy this soup cold for lunch this week and I think I will be eating more leftover soup cold because my microwave’s life ended in a shower of sparks this week! Your comment inspired me to pick up nutritional yeast at my co-op this week and I will try it instead next time. How much would you use? And what are your other favorite ways to use it, now that I have a bag? :)

      1. Somer

        Ok, going back through your posts is causing serious drooling. Dangerous as I haven’t had breakfast yet! Here is the deal with nutritional yeast: when I went plant based, I did it cold turkey. I bought nutritional yeast because all my new vegan cookbooks said it tasted like cheese. It. did. not….. that is, until I hadn’t eaten cheese for a month or so. Now I absolutely adore it and use it in every recipe that could be spruced up by a little cheesiness. I would start small. Add a tablespoon or a time to recipes where you would normally use cheese. Let it grow on you until you love it dearly, then start using copious amounts.

        I substitutes it for cheese all the time, but sometimes it needs a medium, like tofu or cashew cream to really replace cheese in a recipe, like on pizza or in enchiladas. Adding garlic and salt helps too.

        Here are some recipes where I have used it that may ease you into it:

        This page has a vegan bechamel and a mexican mountain recipe that are really good

        My friend who lives 12 hours away called me last night while making the Mexican Mountain. She was about to add active dry yeast to the recipe. Hilarious.

        One last sorta recipe: The house dressing by Chef AJ with nutritional yeast is a dressing I cannot live without. Seriously drink it right out of the jar. Here is the youtube demo with recipe. She is AMAZING.

        Good luck and let me know what you think!

  3. Shira

    Looks so good! I love soup year round too (we are in the same part of the world – so wet here this week!) – and your classic recipe looks perfect! I can’t wait to try this one!

    1. emmycooks Post author

      Hope you got some sunshine this weekend like we did! Though I hear it’s back to soup weather this week–yay (for soup) / boo (for rain). :)

  4. Sarah

    YUM! Have you ever frozen this? I am the only one in the family who would eat this, and I can only eat lentil soup so many days in a row. :)

    1. emmycooks Post author

      Oh, yes, I freeze it all the time. No problem. Just put a splash of water in the pot with the frozen soup when you warm it up so the lentils don’t stick at first.

  5. baconbiscuit212

    I love lentil soups. Whole Foods sells Parmesan rinds next to the pre-grated cheese. I’ve never bought them because I have more than enough at home in my freezer. I seem to accumulate more rinds than I can use up though, so the bag is a little bit like an archeological dig: really freezer-burned ones on the bottom, fresher ones on the top!

    1. emmycooks Post author

      Thanks for the tip! Your Parmesan rind situation sounds a little like my own–I cleaned out my freezer lately and was pretty impressed with how many I had squirreled away. I have been using them quite freely ever since!

      1. rachelocal

        I have a meeting with a local shop owner on Wednesday. I’m going to pick her brain about all my local options for beans, flour, etc. I’m not sure if lentils are grown in the Mid-Atlantic states!

  6. bergennator

    Thanks for this great recipe! I was looking for a simple lentil soup recipe, and this fit the bill exactly. The parmesan rind gave the soup a really nice flavor. This recipe is a keeper.


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