Just in time for the holidays, it’s the Christmasiest dish of all: Lentil Soup!
Okay, not really. While Lentil Soup doesn’t scream O Come All Ye Faithful, it is most definitely a meal for frigid December nights – a dense, stewy comfort food that may not be fancy enough to serve guests, but does just fine for on a random Wednesday.
Like every other food that's not pasta or chicken, I’m kind of new to lentils. They careened into my life during a braising class about a year ago, like some savory, wine-infused comet. Needless to say, Cabernet Sauvignon + veal stock + anything = highly satisfying, so my introduction was totally jolly and very bright. However, I do understand why some might have an aversion to lentils. Honestly, they’re kind of dry, and there’s only so much you can do to make ‘em kick. BUT, prepared with some flair (FLAIR!), they’re pretty palatable. Good, even.
This dish fits the flair bill. (The flair bill? Okay, I’ll go with it.) It’s an All Recipes special that starts with a rough mire poix and then simmers long enough to infuse everything with a gentle, savory flava.
Based on reviewer comments, I reduced the olive oil by half, opted for diced tomatoes, substituted chicken stock for half the water, and chose balsamic vinegar over red wine vinegar. They were all good suggestions, though I might cut back on the vinegar. It nearly overpowered the other flavors.
Based on my own preferences, I nixed the spinach called for in the original recipe. I’m raw spinach’s biggest fan, but the cooked stuff seriously grosses me out. I vividly remember accidentally biting into a diner spinach roll a few years ago and nearly spitting it back at my sister. She was not pleased, but – yick.
Also? I think I may have finally learned how to “salt and pepper to taste.” This is very exciting, since I formerly interpreted that particular direction as “salt and pepper until your tongue turns into a raisin.” My new understanding is that salt should be applied enough to highlight and strengthen a flavor, but not become a flavor in itself. Three cheers.
So - here it is. Hope you like it, and I'll be back late next week with new posts. Happy holidays!
Makes six large servings
Adapted from All Recipes.
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 cups dry lentils
8 cups water (OR 4 cups water and 4 cups broth)
2 tablespoons vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1) In a large pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery. Saute until onion is soft and tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, bay leaf, oregano, and basil. Saute another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2) Add lentils. Stir. Add water and tomatoes. Stir again and bring to a boil. Once soup begins boiling, drop heat to medium-low and simmer for a minimum of 60 minutes.
3) When soup is just about done, stir in spinach and continue cooking until it wilts. Add vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.
Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price per Serving
356.5 calories, 7.2 g fat, $0.69
1 onion, chopped: 46 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.15
2 tablespoons olive oil: 239 calories, 27 g fat, $0.16
2 carrots, diced: 50 calories, 0.3 g fat, $0.20
2 stalks celery, chopped: 11 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.40
2 cloves garlic, minced: 9 calories, 0 g fat, $0.10
1 teaspoon dried oregano: negligible fat and calories, $0.02
1 bay leaf: negligible fat and calories, $0.03
1 teaspoon dried basil: negligible fat and calories, $0.02
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes: 82 calories, 0 g fat, $1.39 (ouch)
2 cups dry lentils: 1356 calories, 4.1 g fat, $0.48
4 cups water: negligible fat and calories, free
4 cups chicken stock: 346 calories, 11.5 g fat, $0.92
2 tablespoons vinegar: negligible fat and calories, $0.24
salt to taste: negligible fat and calories, $0.02
ground black pepper to taste: negligible fat and calories, $0.02
TOTAL: 2139 calories, 43.1 g fat, $4.15
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 356.5 calories, 7.2 g fat, $0.69