A recent home cooked lentil soup did not turn out how my spouse intended it to be. Her lentil soup ended up with ear-shaped orecchiette pasta in it. Originally I thought it could be a good soup but the pasta in the soup was overcooked and flabby and gave the soup a not so pretty grayish tint and the flavor was rather starchy. I suggested not serving the soup to her friends for whom the soup was intended but luckily they were invited over the next day. My spouse was disappointed and was not up for the whole shebang of prepping, cooking and washing dishes again. So I offered to fill-in and give it a second try.
Lentil soup take-two
First I made a flavor-base with a sauté of carrots, onions, sweet potatoes and celery. The best part was that we still had the original lentil-pasta soup, so I strained the lentils and pasta and used the liquid part instead of a store bought broth. The overcooked pasta and lentils were enjoyed by our daughter the next day in her school lunch – what can I say kids love soft pasta! Back to the soup making -- next, I raided our kitchen cupboard and ground allspice, cinnamon, black pepper, and a long forgotten container filled with fennel pollen made it into the soup. Also I skimmed through our refrigerator and I was fortunate enough to find my favorite fig jam, black olive juice and soy based amino liquid protein besides some Parmesan rind which I had kept for quite some time to make use of at the right moment – all that was perfect for the lentil soup! The two latter add-ons gave the welcome umami flavor boost. Finally, a spritz of apple cider vinegar completed the balance of sweet, savory and acidic, and 45 minutes later when the lentils were soft, the soup had become hearty and delicious.
The texture had become rather thick so I added a quart of ice cubes that not only thinned the soup out but also cooled it down in a matter of minutes - perfect since it was served the next day.
The lentil soup
My spouse served the soup in large French porcelain bowls. Small wooden hollow vessels were filled with butter-lettuce and drizzled with EVOO and apple cider vinegar and seasoned with a sprinkle of pink Himalayan salt and fresh black pepper from the mill with generous wedges of avocado.
I suggested that the soup be served with freshly cut apple cubes and minced parsley to add some vitality and freshness – actually not sure if she went along with that but when I came home the next day in the evening and her friends had been at our house already for a few hours, they were complimenting the soup. Well-done honey - soup mission completed!
Following is a recipe for a basic lentil soup. Perhaps you make a wonderful soup like ours by raiding your cupboard and refrigerator and get to use many special spices.
Basic Lentil Soup
(recipe makes four entrée sized soup portions)
2 carrots, about 6-inches long
5 stalks green celery
1 red onion
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons vegetable oil such as olive or grape seed oil
2 cups French lentils
sea salt, to taste
black pepper from the mill, to taste
8 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped freshly
- Rinse carrots and celery. Peel onions and garlic. Cut the vegetables into ½ inch pieces.
- On medium heat setting, heat oil in a gallon-sized pot and add vegetables. Season with black pepper and sea salt. Cook vegetables 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or until carrots are soft.
- Add lentils and vegetable broth and bring to boil on high heat setting, continue to simmer on medium heat setting for 30 minutes longer or until the lentils are soft.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve soup in bowls and sprinkle with parsley.
Chef’s Tip: Just before serving, drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the soup for added richness.