My mom makes a really delicious lentil soup. Hers is a little rustic, with a thick broth and chunky vegetables. This is a bit fancier (but not really fancy at all...) It can be served as an appetizer, dressed up with some parsley and parmesan. But I like it best on a chilly night in front of the tv. Just add a little garlic bread and some grated cheese and you're in business!
For this soup I use half french lentils, half red lentils. The red lentils will basically break apart and dissolve, thickening the broth. The french lentils will hold their shape and stay nice and delicate. It's even better the next day and freezes beautifully so don't worry about leftovers.
Of course the quantities of these ingredients are flexible. I've tried variations of the soup with smoked turkey sausage and bacon. But I really like the meatless version best. I make mine without onions but most people include them, just saute until translucent before you add the carrots. Instead, I like my soup extra garlicky, so if 6 cloves feels like a lot, just add less! Squash and zucchini would be great additions as well. Also, the liquid amounts for the recipe are variable. I usually just use a 32 oz carton of broth then add water until it looks about right. If the soup looks too watery when done, you can always puree a few cups with a stick blender or food processor to thicken it up.
2 cups lentils (I use 1 cup french, 1 cup red)
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
4 medium sized red potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup of fresh green beans, cut into bite size pieces
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce, to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (32 oz carton)
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or lemon juice
For a meaty version try adding:
14 oz smoked turkey sausage, cut into bite size pieces
5 strips of bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
In a large heavy stock pot or dutch oven, saute carrots for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Add garlic and cook until softened and fragrant, another 2-4 minutes. Mix in tomato paste, tamari, hot sauce and spices, cook until fragrant. Add lentils, broth, salt and pepper then bring soup to a boil.
Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in potatoes and green beans. Simmer for another 45 or so minutes until lentils are tender but hold their shape and potatoes are done.
Stir in vinegar or lemon juice and season with salt if necessary. Serve hot with some shredded cheese and crusty bread.