I was a picky eater when I was a child. Aside from one distinct memory of sitting at the dining room table by myself for a very long time because I hadn’t eaten my peas, my parents didn’t really force the issue. Lentils are one of many foods that I never ate when I was young, and discovered on my own as an adult. In the past year and a half of my life, I’ve eaten more vegetables, and a greater variety of foods than I ever have before. I hope to pass these new eating habits on to my son.
I think that it’s challenging to cook something that you’ve never eaten before, because you don’t know what it’s supposed to taste like. That was the case for me with lentils. About three years ago, I started making several kinds of vegetable soups. Eventually I wanted to attempt lentil soup.
I actually think that lacking any reference point for the taste allowed me to experiment and come up with a recipe that is truly my own, and one that is a real hit in my household. My husband initially wanted nothing to do with this soup. But, once I got him to try it, he was hooked. He now calls this Christmas Lentil Soup because he thinks my special spice blend makes it tastes like Christmas.
To make the soup, you will need:
2 TBSP olive oil
1 large carrot
2 ribs of celery
1 pound lentils
1 yellow onion
1 large and one medium tomato
2 boxes of chicken broth: 1 regular and 1 reduced sodium
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cloves
1-1/2 tsp Kosher salt
One of the many great things about making your own soup, is that you can add flavor by means other than adding salt. Soup that you buy at the store is often loaded with sodium. In this recipe, I use one box of regular chicken broth, one box of reduced sodium chicken broth, and 1-1/2 teaspoons of Kosher salt. I think that it’s always better to err on the side of less salt when cooking, because salt can always be added later, if necessary.
There are a few ways that you can go wrong with lentil soup, so let’s address them right away. First, start by rinsing your lentils. If you forget to rinse them first, you’ll end up with an unappetizing grey color to your soup. Second, use a colander *with holes smaller than the lentils*. Certain absent-minded chefs have fallen victim to colanders with larger holes than anticipated. If your colander’s holes are too big, your lentils will wash through, and you’ll have to get more.
Once your lentils are rinsed, set them to the side to drain.
Wash your vegetables. Peel the carrot and the onion. Chop all the vegetables.
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and salt.
Heat for 7 minutes, stirring everything around occasionally. Once your onions start to turn translucent, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
Add the lentils, tomatoes, broth, cumin and cloves in that order. If you add the broth before the lentils and tomatoes, you might splatter. Stir the ingredients together and cover with a lid.
Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 35 minutes.
You can serve the soup right away, or store it in an air tight container in the refrigerator for several days.
And there you have it, a bowl of hearty, homemade goodness. Enjoy!
You may have seen me use lentils before as pie weights for blind baking a tart crust. While this is an excellent way to keep a tart crust from puffing up, it unfortunately renders the lentils useless for cooking and eating. It’s a real shame because lentils form the base of a great soup. Fortunately, they are quite inexpensive. If you use lentils as pie weights, toss them afterwards. Get a fresh bag for your soup.