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.