Hearty Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup–a first for me. I heard about the good-for-you benefits of lentils long ago when I used to run and was in training for a marathon (didn’t happen…injury). It’s only taken me 5+ years since then to get around to trying a lentil recipe.

Don’t know what lentils are? Well, they are vegetables in the legume family. They come in a variety of colors (yellow, red-orange, green, brown, black, white) and a variety of sizes; with or without skins, whole or split. I used little green ones that look like split peas.

As for benefits, they are high in protein, contain dietary fiber, and are a good source of iron.

So tonight I felt like attempting something new as well as something warm for the tummy seeing as the weather took a dip this afternoon. I whipped out my handy The New Recipe Book and followed this recipe verbatim. (Are you sick of hearing me mention that cookbook yet? Worthwhile purchase, though, let me tell you, because it not only provides tons of recipes but teaches about the reasons behind what works and what doesn’t–my analytical mind loves that. I got mine at Costco, by the way.)

All I can say is that the taste of this soup is…different. Hmmmmmm…you want a better explanation than that? Well, the lentils have an earthy taste, the bacon adds a smoky flavor, and there is a contrast of textures: creamy base, crunchy carrots, firm lentils.

I didn’t love the soup but I didn’t dislike it, either. However, hubby really liked it as evidenced by gobbling up three bowls of the concoction!!

Would I make it again? Well, yes, just to have variation on the menu…and it’s a healthy recipe…and hubby liked it. Besides, the ingredient list only calls for one cup of lentils, and although the bag I bought is small, we still have loads of it left, so you can bet I’ll either make this again or try some more lentil recipes in the near future to use it all up.

Hearty Lentil Soup

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INGREDIENTS

  • 3 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped medium
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. minced fresh parsley leaves

DIRECTIONS

  1. Fry bacon in large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add onion and carrots; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add garlic; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Stir in tomatoes, bay leaf, and thyme; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  5. Stir in lentils, salt, and pepper to taste; cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until vegetables are softened and lentils have darkened, 8-10 minutes.
  6. Uncover, increase heat to hight, add wine, and bring to a simmer.
  7. Add chicken broth and water; bring to a boil, cover partially, and reduce heat to low. Simmer until lentils are tender but still hold their shape, 30-35 minutes; discard bay leaf.
  8. Puree 3 cups of the soup in a blender until smooth, then return to pot.
  9. Stir in vinegar and heat soup over medium-low until hot, about 5 minutes.
  10. Stir in 2 tbsp. parsley and serve, garnishing each bowl with some of the remaining parsley.

SOURCE: The New Recipe Book (pgs. 55-57)

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