The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star. -- Anthelme Brillat-Savarin --

Monday, January 21, 2013

Winter Favorites #5: Lentil Soup

I found this recipe on my friend kath001’s blog “What’s Cookin’ 4 Miles North of Nowhere” quite some time ago, and despite my good intentions, I just never got around to making it.  I finally decided that last night was the night, and I’m so glad I did!!  This soup is hearty, healthy and best of all delicious!!

My hubby and I worked on it together, and I must admit, he was a bit dubious after my previous attempts at lentil anything.  I’ve always loved the flavor of lentils, but haven’t made any in years because I was so frustrated at having delicious, but still hard and crunchy lentils every time I tried.  Despite many attempts, with some yummy-sounding recipes, I’ve always had trouble getting lentils to soften up when I cook them.

I’ve tried simmering them for hours on end, and even soaking them overnight before cooking - like I’d do with dried beans - but no luck.

I finally received a tip that cooking them (until soft) before adding tomatoes (because of the acid) or any type of salt would help.  (Those things are supposed to somehow prevent the softening process.)

I don’t understand the exact science, but I figured it was worth a try, so that’s exactly what I did.  I adjusted the original recipe a bit to change the order of things.  I waited to add the sausage and chicken broth (which both have salt in them) as well as the tomatoes until after the lentils had cooked for a while.

Guess what??  Soft lentils in my pot for the first time ever!!

I’m so excited about this success, that I’m going to start experimenting with lentils much more often again!  Meanwhile, this soup is a wonderful start.  Even my husband agreed!
You can throw it together very easily and just let it simmer while you do other things.  I’m sure it would work well in a slow-cooker too, as long as you wait to add the salty things and tomatoes until after the lentils have already softened.

Lentil Soup

1 onion, finely chopped
3 ribs of celery, diced
1/3 cup sweet red & yellow peppers, diced
1/2 cup shoestring carrots (or diced or sliced carrots - your preference)
6 cups water (approximately)
1-1/2 cups lentils (the original recipe called for 2 cups which would be fine…I just used up what I had on hand)
1 cup link sausage, diced (I cut mine pretty small because I like a little in every bite, but you can use larger chunks if you prefer)
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (I added these too, because they’re my latest “secret ingredient” for yummy soups!)
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes (I prefer the no salt added variety - DO NOT DRAIN)
32 oz. low-sodium chicken broth (I added more than the original recipe called for because I wanted to stretch the recipe as much as possible)
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves (the original recipe called for 1/2 cup, but my hubby & I both love spinach, so I added more…we both agreed that next time…and THERE WILL BE A NEXT TIME…we’ll probably add even more)

In a large pan, heat about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.  Add diced onion, celery and carrot.  Sauté, stirring occasionally, till onion is translucent.

Add the lentils and 6 cups water, and heat to boiling.  Stir well, cover and reduce heat.  Simmer for 30 to 60 minutes, checking &stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender.  If necessary, you can add additional water.

Add sausage, red pepper flakes, canned tomatoes (with liquid) and chicken broth.  Continue to cook another 10 to 15 minutes to give flavors a chance to meld.  Stir in fresh spinach and cook to desired consistency.

Serve with crackers or a nice crusty bread.

Please give this yummy recipe a try, and stop over and say “HOWDY” to my friend kath001 over at Four Miles North of Nowhere .  Those of you who enjoy crafts and cooking are just gonna love her blog!

Have a fantastic week my friends!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the sweet words! I'm glad you like it too. Did I know you posted it? Because surely I would have left a comment. :)

    I always add my lentils last, and they are always done. I think years and years ago I may have tried something with lentils and not had them get soft, which was maybe another reason why I was prejudiced against them for so long (you know, besides the sister thing...heehee). I've heard old lentils stay hard, as well as ones cooked in hard water (either of those could have been a problem during my previous attempt). We have a water softener now, but read something about adding a little baking soda to hard water while cooking. Really they should cook very fast, like 20 to 30 minutes, which is wonderful when you need soup in a hurry.