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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Lentil Soup



Well the holidays are over along with all the good reasons to indulge in seasonal cookies, cakes and any other festive delicacies.
It’s time to forgive ourselves and fill the pot with some nutritious ingredients as we enter the New Year.
This time of year along with the cold weather and snowy days calls for cooking some serious comfort food.
As a child I don’t think I really came to appreciate the legume family of foods.
Beans, chick peas and lentils took a turn showing up at our table each week.
Fava beans occasionally made a guest appearance and were usually served with dandelion greens.
The beans, chick peas and lentils were mostly served mixed with rice or spaghetti which had been snapped into small pieces before cooking.
I don’t think we realized how well we were eating. We ate because we didn’t have a choice and most times were glad that legume day was over for the week.
My children weren’t much different when it came to eating this kind of meal.
Some would eat the meal under protest and others would gag at the very idea of having to lift the spoon to their mouth.
In such cases I would eventually give in and prepare them a plate of pasta tossed with butter and cheese.
It has come to my attention though that some of these persons have since acquired a taste for lentils, chick peas and such and are actually enjoying them.
Today was one of those wintry, snowy days and I put a pot of lentils on the stove.
I prepared them just as my mother still does and probably as her mother did before her.
I stood a while behind the window in the kitchen and watched the snow gently falling as I enjoyed the earthy fragrance that filled the room.


Lentil Soup

2 cups brown lentils
6 cups cold water
2 to 3 cloves of garlic (peeled)
1 stalk of celery
2 to 3 bay leaves
1 small tomato (seeds removed)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place lentils in a good size pot that will allow them to expand while cooking
  2. Thoroughly wash lentils under cold water removing any debris that may be hiding there.
  3. Drain then fill the pot with the cold water for cooking.
  4. Add bay leaves, garlic, celery, tomato, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  5. Place on stove on high heat and bring to a boil.
  6. Let boil for 5 minutes then reduce heat to a simmer.
  7. Simmer, partially covering the pot with the lid so to let the steam escape.
  8. Cook for approximately 40 to 50 minutes or until tender.
  9. Remove cooked celery, tomato, garlic and bay leaves before serving.



Notes Tips and Suggestions
  • Make sure you pick over the lentils well as there have been times that small little pebbles have camouflaged themselves as the real thing.
  • The instructions on my lentil package claim that they will cook in 20 minutes...I don't think so.
  • After the lentils are cooked and tender it's a good idea to let them rest a while until some of the juice is absorbed.
  • It's optional to throw in a tomato. I couldn't figure out why my mother always did. A while back I read that the acid in the tomato helps tenderize legumes. (squeeze out the seeds first)
  • Just before serving add just a splash of extra virgin olive oil to the lentils...it goes a long way.
  • Opening a can of precooked lentils may save time and effort but lack that home cooked taste.
  • If time is not on your side cook them the day before you want to eat them. Once you have assembled all of the ingredients, the stove will do the rest.

11 comments:

  1. your exceptional daughterJanuary 6, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    Guilty! It is I who now enjoys lentils... however, I love red lentils and yellow letils/split peas. Still haven't gotten the taste for brown lentils.
    And you had snow? Where do you LIVE?!

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  2. You should come to Greenville.... nope, can't get more clever than that.

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  3. As much as I enjoy reading your blogs, I love reading the comments from e to you,
    Barb

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  4. Hi Zia!

    You're blog is fantastic. After having success with the biscotti over Christmas, we're now going to give this lentil soup recipe a try. Quick question, will any type of bean work for this recipe? Despite my resisting, my father has packed my freezer full of extra Romano beans from his garden. I'd love to put them to good use...

    Michael

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  5. How many would this recipe feed? If I am the only one eating this dish and made the amount that you are posting, would I be able to freeze the other portions?

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  6. This looks like a great recipe I'm definitely going to try and I wholeheartedly agree with Barb! :)

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  7. Hi Michael,
    Good to hear from you.
    If you are cooking the fresh frozen Romano beans use the same combination of garlic, celery, bay leaves, salt and tomato if you have one handy.
    Omit the addition of olive oil in the cooking but add it at the end to the cooked beans instead.
    Same seasoning for cooking dried kidney beans and chick peas but they must be soaked preferably overnight for best results. Cooking times vary for dried beans and chick peas depending on how long you soak them and sometimes just how dry the beans are to begin with. I use a pressure cooker for these which cuts the cooking time considerably. I don't suggest a pressure cooker for the lentils though.
    I saw a picture of Jovana's biscotti for Christmas...excellent work! and I told her so.

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  8. Hi Barb,
    We have an interesting habit of trying to outwit each other.
    I think we take turns winning.
    Thanks for commenting!

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  9. Hi Sarah,
    I'm glad that you are planning to try this recipe although I would be very interested to know Joseph's reaction when you set a plate before him.

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  10. Hi Teresa,
    The recipe I posted would probably feed 4 people depending on appetites of course.
    If you add some fine noodles to the lentil soup it will stretch the number of servings.
    I would try making half the quantity the first time.
    Who knows maybe the kids will try them and like them and you will end up making the full quantity the next time.
    If not, they freeze well.

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